As I mentioned in my last post, there has been an investigation underway, on Felix’s case by the State Attorney’s Office in Hillsborough County, Florida, for the last 14 months. They created a special unit to look at cases where there is a claim of innocence. His case is now closed. In other words, Felix lost.
Our pro bono attorney, Reggie Garcia, and I thought their agenda would be to examine this case with a fresh outlook. But that was not the case. Some witnesses could prove where Felix was on the evening Joseph Tramontana Jr. was murdered. But, those witnesses are all dead. On the other hand, the Prosecution’s witnesses are, for the most part, still alive. They rehashed their old testimony including the obvious untruth that Felix had no hearing problem.
The board refused to consider the signed pizza slip, proving that Felix was at his girlfriend’s house, and disproving the state witness’s allegation that he was with Frank. They did not consider the Due Process and ADA violations of Felix not being given an Interpreter. But since, they said, Felix could talk and managed to answer at least a few of the questions put to him, that he could understand his trial.
They also said no request was made for an Interpreter. I made several attempts to show them that according to existing case law, it is the responsibility of the judge to get an interpreter and, in fact, because Felix didn’t have any Sign at that time, the court would have been responsible for getting him classes and tutors, prior to the trial. His rights to understand the trial process and assist his attorney were not met.
Evidently, they did not see having an unconstitutional trial as being unfair.
I asked myself how could they not have seen the due process violations? Maybe because they have never had another deaf defendant challenging due process. Maybe because with no prior experience with the deaf in the criminal court system, they could not comprehend what an uneducated, confused, deaf person had gone through in the criminal trial process in 1983.
Attorney Reggie Garcia and I will be at his next parole hearing in August or September of this year. The possibility of parole looks good, but parole isn’t exoneration, and I can’t promise anything, anyway.
But Felix, BitcoDavid, myself, and everybody at DeafInPrison.com are asking you to educate the local court officials, attorneys and law enforcement – not only in Florida – but in your own communities as well, about the Deaf. What Felix has endured all these years in prison as an innocent man should not happen to another deaf person.
There’s a song that says it best. “I get knocked down but I get up again.” That’s Felix all over. He took the news hard. But after a couple of days, he picked himself up and continued to try to move on. He’s working hard on the parole option. The man is an inspiration to us all.
Thank you all for your kindness to Felix.