by Marritte FunchesD.A. to retry man whose S.F. conviction was tossed.” [On Jan. 20, the conviction of Maurice Caldwell, who has been serving a 27-years-to-life sentence for the 1990 shooting death of Judy Acosta in “a drug deal gone bad at the Alemany public housing project in San Francisco,” was overturned, largely because Marritte Funches “signed a declaration stating that he was one of two gunmen involved …” Prosecutors ordered Caldwell retried. But according to “Judge frees man awaiting retrial – evidence gone” in the March 26 Chronicle, the case was dismissed on March 25 for lack of evidence, the single eyewitness at trial having died and other evidence having been destroyed by the court in 1995. On March 28, Caldwell walked free.]
Prosecutor Al Giannini* says the trumped up charges were “bulletproof.” This term is indicative of just how he viewed young men, Black and Brown, during his time as prosecutor. In his eyes, we were all worthless pieces of scum who needed to be taken out back and shot, guilty or not.
But like most cowards of his kind, he didn’t have the will to act out his racist, reactionary fantasies face to face. He and his gang of crooked cops did it as they’ve always done it since the ‘60s and J. Edgar Hoover – through corruption of the courts, witness intimidation, manipulating evidence, paying off snitches to lie and all manner of Machiavellian-type trickery.
This was at the height of the crack epidemic, when the CIA was still allowing their lackeys in South America to fund their oppressive, murderous regimes through the mass production and sale of cocaine, primarily in North American ghettos to the poor and people of color. This was fueled by Reaganomics, the theory of turning over the country’s resources and economy to the wealthiest, greediest 4 percent of the population and hope they throw back some scraps to the poor.
This was at the height of the crack epidemic, when the CIA was still allowing their lackeys in South America to fund their oppressive, murderous regimes through the mass production and sale of cocaine, primarily in North American ghettos to the poor and people of color.
It’s no coincidence that during this time we saw the greatest expansion of prison construction in American history. We became an incarceration nation, sacrificing the lives of countless young men and women, many of them innocent or excessively sentenced.
Henry Fielding once wrote, “Life everywhere furnishes an accurate observer with the ridiculous.” It’s not enough they got 21 years out of Maurice Caldwell for a crime Giannini knew he didn’t commit. Giannini had been in a hurry to close a case and make all the tourists feel safe.
San Francisco Assistant District Attorney Braden Woods, currently head of the homicide unit, says he wants to retry the man. These are the hypocrisies stunting the growth and enlightenment of a country. This corruption in the courts, killer cops, the government – it’s a system routinely bought off by corporate interests that spend millions of taxpayer dollars to cover up its lies and corruption.
If people really knew what was going on inside these prisons and courts – the true impact of this corruption on crime and recidivism rates, the divisiveness it creates in society – they would demand an immediate end to prison as a solution. The people would demand a greater investment in our youth and more effective programs and new laws to make it a crime to profit off the incarceration of our fellow human beings.
If people really knew what was going on inside these prisons and courts – the true impact of this corruption on crime and recidivism rates, the divisiveness it creates in society – they would demand an immediate end to prison as a solution.
The state can say whatever it wants to discredit me, and my response is, “I am whatever you say I am, and if I wasn’t …” while in the mountain caverns, it is easy to believe the sun never shines. But once out of the darkness, the truth cannot be denied.
I have admitted my crimes and I accept responsibility. But to those fools who presume to judge, I say condemn the teacher, not the loyal student. From the age of 5, I learned I would not be loved or accepted by society if I was poor. I vowed then to get money at all costs. Like many of my generation, Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro taught me how to kill, sell dope and be a criminal.
I learned from the police – murdering and bashing in the heads of my friends with impunity. The state, the schools could never tell me shit. And these are the same lessons more than 25 million young people are out there learning right now today. Is this the society you want?
When was the last time anyone was born, lived his life and died without seeing this country at war? How are we the world’s No. 1 consumer of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine – the world’s largest manufacturer of handguns and weapons of war?
Why do we have more people in prison and on death row and adolescents in adult jails than any other country on the planet? And why are our courts convicting thousands of innocent people every year?
The prosecutor, Giannini, Inspector Gerrans and Officer Crenshaw – all of them knew Ms. Cobb didn’t see anything that night, not only because she told them she didn’t, but also because after being forced to lie, nothing she said matched the evidence of what went down.
And once this legal lynching took place, not only did they pay Ms. Cobb to lie by moving her and her family out of the projects to a nice place in a nice neighborhood, they paid her to keep up the lie. They put thousands of dollars in her pockets, gave her awards so she’d have respect and standing in the community, paid for vacations for her and her children, and gave her a good paying job with benefits.
Ms. Cobb didn’t bring down some major crime syndicate or druglord to warrant all of these payoffs. But she got them because the authorities knew and she knew they had put an innocent man away for life. And they knew what it would mean to their careers, their own freedom, if Ms. Cobb ever decided to tell the truth.
Sure, the state and Mr. Woods will say I’m just a cold-blooded killer trying to save a friend. And yes, I’ve been in prison 20 years, since ’91, serving a life term for the murder of another man – karma being the woman she is, filled with spite and scorn.
OK, but it took 15 years for anyone to even ask. The police and prosecutor didn’t care who they put away, so they ignored any evidence of Mr. Caldwell’s innocence – instead manipulating what they had to fit the lie.
And now the state refuses to believe my confession because I will not give them anyone else. But I came forward to take responsibility for my own actions, not to help these crooked cops clear up their books. My only regret is for the death of Mr. Judy Acosta, the pain his family endured and the hurt I may have caused anyone else.
*Al Giannini, a homicide prosecutor who tried cases in San Francisco for 23 years before moving to the San Mateo District Attorney’s Office in 2002, was sanctioned in 2004 by the California Bar for failure to disclose exculpatory evidence. – ed.
Who are they?
Fools assume, and are blind
To weigh the measure of a man
Judges in black robes
Looking down from their lofty perch
Killer kops patrolling the streets
Billy clubs thirsty for blood
Guns primed to shoot
“Hey you, show me your papers.”
But who are they?
Have they ever bled
From wounds that would not heal
Toiled in the earth
Way past nine to five
Seen the pain in their mothers’ eyes
Black and blue
Have they ever suffered the misery
Our children seek to escape
What tragedies have they endured
In the trappings of poverty
Believing the lies
That our lives are worthless
Who are these fools
Why should I care
About their self-serving laws
Why should I care
What they say is best for us all
Seeking new worlds in space to enslave
As they destroy this one
With all their sick politics
Poisons and pollution
Who are they?
Ikemba S. Mutulu [Marritte Funches]
Send our brother some love and light. Write to Marritte Funches, 37050, P.O. Box 7000, Carson City NV 89702.