February 15, 2008, the Midwestern Innocence Project in Kansas City, Missouri, launched the beginning of it’s celebrative kickoff, to establish their directives and goals to exonerate falsely-convicted people out of prison.
Lawyers, media, Paralegals, Investigators, and Volunteers, took their seats—following the “free lunch”—anxiously awaiting, as Executive Director, Jay Swearingen, introduced Dennis Fritz as the keynote speaker for the day’s event.
Dennis, through his positive attitude, and precise speaking abilities, conveyed the torturous account of his very painful and exhausting journey— of the 12 year nightmare that he underwent—of being falsely convicted for 1st Degree Capitol Murder. At times, during his talk, his voice would sometimes quiver as partial tears would form in his eyes.
He described the tremendous amounts of suffering that he endured throughout his horrible experience. All eyes were glued upon him, as he vividly described what prison life was really like. “Every day was filled with tremendous amounts of unbelievable stress and fear for my life.
You could never relax in prison, due to the fact that, at any time, other predatory inmates would often put sacks over their heads—with shanks (homemade knives) in hand—and steal everything you owned! If you reported the assault, then you would be labeled a “snitch” and would surely be murdered for your wrongful communication with the prison officials.”
Dennis captured everyone’s attention, when he most graciously introduced family members and their falsely convicted relatives.
To wit: Dale and Donna Horner, whose nephew Steve Allen has been falsely convicted for 17 years of allegedly murdering his wife—and, Evelyn Case, whose son Byron Case, has been claiming his innocence for the past 6 years.
The audience roared with laughter as Dennis told the story of an account that happened after he had been released from prison:
“When I was released from prison, after having spent several days with my daughter, Elizabeth, my mother and I returned to Kansas City—where I now reside. My Mom owned a 1966 Malibu Chevy, that at very first sight, I was itching to get behind the wheel.
Although I did not have a driver’s license, I got behind the wheel and put the key in the ignition.
There I was, driving down the road as a free man with zeal in my pounding heart, that was sending cold chills rushing down my spine. I realized that I had NOT forgotten how to drive a car after 12 long years.
It was GREAT!! That is, until I noticed that the gas gauge was on empty. I headed straight for the nearby convenience store with $5 in my wallet. I pulled up to the gas pumps, got out, and then realized that I didn’t know how to pump gas. It was a very strange feeling. I didn’t want to go inside the store and ask the attendant how to pump gas? Surely, he would have called the looney wagon to pick me up, and take me away to the funny farm.
I stood there pondering what to do? Then, from out of nowhere, the gas pump started talking to me!!!! I froze. The words, ‘What did I do wrong’ blurted out in my mind!!! I quickly jumped into the car and sped away, with the thought that the police would be right behind me at any time.” Later, I learned that things had definitely changed—and that gas pumps CAN TALK!!!
After Dennis’ presentation, Jay Swearingen, then proceeded to outline the parameters of the 2008 kick-start program. In an eloquent speaking style, Jay brought to light the financial aspects and barriers that would be involved in successfully moving forward to bring about the much-needed support and success for the Midwestern Innocence Project. In a free-style speaking manner, Jay brush painted his many objectives to the all-attentive audience, speaking as he slowly walked up and down the center isle that divided the seated guests.
His brilliant articulation and wholesome, honest personality penetrated throughout the congregated attendees. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind, that Jay was the MAN for the job—to help take the Innocence Project to the utmost heights of success!!!!!
Jay then introduced the new Director, Tiffany Murphy. With a huge smile upon her face, Tiffany wasted no time, as she started educating everyone—in her down-to-earth approach— as to the complicated phases of the judicial processes that an attorney must go through for their clients. Her composure was extra-ordinary!
Although the judicial guidelines seemed at first, very difficult for everyone to apprehend, Tiffany’s layman way of communicating, brought about an in-depth understanding to everyone there. Of course, by that time, everyone had finished their pizza and were whole-heartedly focused on her broad judicial explanations.
The audience asked many questions that had always perplexed them in the past. By the time that Tiffany had finished her power-point presentation, the people in the audience seemed very satisfied, relaxed, and knowledgeable as to their own particular circumstances. Tiffany Murphy!— such a wonderful, skilled, professional person and attorney, that is nothing short of a bulldog fighting for the rights of the wrongfully convicted.
The final event of the day was a book signing by Dennis Fritz. His book entitled, Journey Toward Justice, will live forever. Being the co-companion book of John Grisham’s, The Innocent Man, Dennis masterfully interwove his 1st perspective, in-depth accounts of his nightmare out of hell.
The book signing was also a success. Everyone was so interested in meeting Dennis, and found him to be such a inspirational person, as to his strength and determination, that was pivotal in helping him endure those unmerciful, 12 years of being wrongfully incarcerated.
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|DENNIS FRITZ SHARES HIS ELECTRIFYI|
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