By Pat Bliss
The day before Felix’s parole hearing in November 2014, a photojournalist representing FOX News interviewed attorney Reggie Garcia and me, in his office. The next morning at the parole hearing he filmed us both, advocating for Felix’s parole. It was an exciting and dramatic time. There were cameras and microphones everywhere. After our time at the hearing was up, Frank Garcia’s name was called. Frank’s sister, Tina showed up to speak on his behalf and so did their younger brother Michael (who doesn’t know Felix).
The fact that they did not come to speak for Felix caused quite a stir among the media. Afterward in the lobby, Reggie and I were asked a lot of questions about what had just taken place. We answered what we could and then everyone left, including the photojournalist for FOX News. All we knew at the time was that the parole hearing and Felix’s case was going to be shown on the local news stations around the State of Florida. We hoped for the best. What we didn’t know was that the story touched the Chief Investigator for FOX News in Tampa.
The day after the hearing, I drove from Tallahassee – where the parole commission is located – to Marion CI in Ocala, to tell Felix what the outcome was. On the way to Ocala I got a call on my cell phone from Craig Patrick of FOX News. He kindly introduced himself and said he had just spoken with Reggie and he wanted to speak to me about Felix. He wanted to do a video shoot inside the prison.
I told him the procedures he must do. He would need to contact the FDOC media director, download and fill out a form for himself and anyone else attending. That is mainly for a background check, to inform about the equipment that is planned to come in, and an approximate date scheduled. I told Craig that needs to be done first, so he said he will get started on it. We all decided with the holidays coming soon, we will pick up on this after the New Year. I drove home after seeing Felix the weekend after the parole hearing.
Early January we started a dialogue and brought in Sachs Media Group to assist. They are part of our legal team. We had to get approvals, a sign interpreter lined up, and a date set. The time of an interview is always designated by the FDOC at the institution so to be sure there is a DOC officer available to be in the room when and where the interview is taking place. We chose March 6, 2015 and FDOC chose 9 AM.
I drove back down to Florida end of February 2015. FOX interviewed me at a station in Tampa. I was to meet Craig at the prison Friday morning, March 6th, to accompany the team for Felix’s interview. It went very smoothly, Felix is so likable and impresses everyone that meets him. We were there 2 hours. I visited Felix, as well, both Saturday and Sunday. As always, we had a lot to talk about. He had questions about the interview, and very exited about it. I answered what I could. After our visit Sunday and our goodbyes, I headed back to Virginia. There is a let down after I leave each time, seeing him stand there in line waiting to get shook down and allowed back into the compound as I walk out the door to freedom. Justice for Felix must come soon!
There will be another – and longer – video aired on FOX at 5:30pm May 25th. I will post the link after it is aired.
Pat Bliss is a retired paralegal in criminal law. She continues to do legal work for indigent prisoner cases showing innocence. She is a Certified Community Chaplain, Certified as a volunteer for CISM (Crises Intervention Stress Management) and involved in community events.