I couldn't afford an attorney, so my son turned himself in without getting legal counsel and foolishly believed that telling the truth would suffice. He admitted to being in Donald Strouth's company without knowledge of what was going on inside the store where the crime took place. By the time his friend came out, the deed was done. By not having an attorney, my son put himself in jeopardy and quickly learned that telling the truth to the authorities doesn't always work in one's favor. A good attorney costs anywhere from one hundred thousand to a million dollars just to 'take on' the case, so hoping to raise some money, I wrote our story, They're Going to Kill My Son, and New Horizon Press published it.
My trust was tested when I discovered that New Horizon cheated me by selling five hundred copies to True Crime Book Club and paying me absolutely nothing. Although in non-fiction, you can use true names and circumstances, the publisher saw fit to change the names of the judge and prosecutor, and also left out some very pertinent information...all without my approval.
Twenty years later, they still have the rights to that book because a move studio took the movie-making option, but since there wasn't an ending, the producers backed out. For all these years, New Horizon has featured my book on their website but never sent me a dime. They claim no books have sold, but I find that very hard to believe.
Unlike, Casey Anthony, who had a great defense team when the majority of the public considered her guilty, I couldn't find even ONE willing to take on our case. The, Sally Jesse, Geraldo, and Maury called and booked me, but nothing came of those appearances either.
The book features actual transcripts from both trials to show how testimony was changed from Strouths trial to Jeff's. How the prosecutor himself changed the way the man was killed, to bringing in Strouth's bloodied jeans saying they were Jeff's, and even though our attorney made them retract their statement, jurors believe what they first hear. In the book, I point out how, when they were lying on the stand, I screamed out and was put in jail for ten days.
I’ve read A Mother’s Torment, and was deeply moved by the story. I can't imagine how you handled the stress. What helped you cope at the time?
The Journey Of Hope is two weeks spent speaking out against the death penalty along with murder victim's families, death row family members, those who were on death row and found innocent and abolitionists. We stayed at campgrounds across the state, with one or two speakers going to schools, colleges, and radio shows. At night, in camp, we'd eat and discuss what we each did during the day and report on any progress we'd made in changing people's viewpoints on life versus death. Each year we visited a different state.
You've mentioned you were offered a motion picture deal, showcasing your story. What happened with that?
I know, trying to garner attention for your son's case, you traveled around the entire country, speaking about the law and how people fall victim to our justice system. Do you think you accomplished your purpose and would you do it again?
I believe in life without parole so if someone is innocent, they will be alive to prove it. That's why all my first books are on crime and punishment.
Your younger son was greatly affected by the imprisonment of his brother. What did you do to help him cope with the loss? Can you share what happened to him? (Another tragedy in your life.)
Please take this opportunity to share with the readers anything you'd like them to know about you, your family, or your writing.
I was born and raised in Concord, NH, and moved south due to my father's health back in the seventies. I lived in Asheville, NC until Jeff got into trouble, then moved to TN where I still am today. Most of my family is in Asheville, and I visit a couple of times a year, staying with my sister for a month of two. I live a lonely life as I don't get out much, and my friends have all gone to heaven. Writing keeps me busy, and it's something I love to do. I wish my health was better so I could do more physical things, but as we grow older, it's a fact we face. I read a lot, too.
After all you've been though, you've managed to keep writing. Has it been cathartic?
Care to share the titles and a little information on the books you have available now? Don't forget to include links to where we can buy them.
Death Row: The 34 chapters in this book are largely composed of interviews with the men on death row, with individuals fighting the death penalty, and with the families of the condemned. Several chapters also cover such topics as the execution of juveniles, mentally retarded individuals and Vietnam veterans, ineffective legal counsel and racist criminal justice systems, botched executions, and executions carried out despite the contrary wishes of prosecutors and victims’ families.
From Vietnam To Hell: Interviews with Vietnam veterans and their family members explain as nothing else can the emotional consequences of wartime experiences. Many of these interviewees are now in prison as a result of the substance abuse or violence that characterizes PTSD.
The complete story, A Mothers Torment, is up to date with real names and trial testimony from both trials at www.amotherstorment.com and also on www.shirleydicks.org The trailer is also on there.
— Library Journal \
— Publishers Weekly
*Featured on Sally Jessy Raphael
*German rights sold to Wilhelm Heyne Verlag
The next two were sold to Prometheus Books called, Congregation of the Condemned about the death penalty and Young Blood which is youth crime. They are also on amazon.com and on their website. http://www.prometheusbooks.com/
Congregation of the Condemned From Publishers Weekly:
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