I was arrested on Oct. 1, 1983, just 55 days after my 21st birthday. A jury in California then convicted me of the charges, which were held against me, and sentenced me to death. The very next morning, in the early hours, I was abruptly taken out of the county jail and transported to San Quentin State Prison, where I was handed over to the warden on California’s death row.
The classification board cleared me to participate in the exercise yard program, so each morning after being strip-searched and handcuffed, I am escorted to a concrete “yard,” 40 by 60 feet in size, where I may mingle with other inmates for several hours before being escorted back inside.
The first executions to occur in my time on Death Row occurred after I had been here eight years. The first was in April 1992 and the second followed in August 1993. In the eight years previous, I had come to know these two men quite well out on the exercise yard and when each of their executions took place something very profound happened to me. I took their deaths very hard at first and soon became depressed. In my cell one night in October 1993, with that quiet cell door closed, I fell to my knees on that floor with tears streaming down my face and I begged God to help and repented of all my sins.
I had been reading the Bible, but my dyslexia had made it quite hard to understand. I was on that floor, despondent and brokenhearted (see Psalms 51:17) when a peace I had never known before came washing over me (see Philippians 4:7). Jesus had become my Lord and Savior that night. I started reading the Bible more, especially the first thing in the morning, and the Spirit and the Word became my teacher and my counselor (see John 14:26, 15:26, and 16:13; 1 John 2:20 and 2:27). I was transformed into a new creation (see 2 Corinthians 5:17) and then the renewing on my mind (see Romans 12:2 and Eph 4:23). I soon began going to sleep earlier each night and was awakened in the twilight hours by the Spirit of God so that in these early quiet hours I could read and re-read God’s Word.
Everywhere I went and everything I did, my faith grew ever stronger and the Holy Spirit, Jesus, God and His Word became more and more real to me. The very first thing I wanted each and every morning was more of God’s presence, peace and His love. As I began living my life through God, with his son, Jesus, as my high priest, I began taking baby steps in my life’s renewal. I began fasting, just a couple of meals at a time at first, in order to clear my mind and body, and before long I was able to fast for several days at a time, consuming nothing but water. God’s control over my life and the sheer power of his Holy Spirit surpassed anything I had ever known or experienced before and reading his living Word pierced my spirit and soul more clearly than any mere blade could do (see Hebrews 4:12).
Soon I began doing Bible studies by mail and listening to Christian radio and television programs whenever I could. Praise and worship music began filling my idle hours as the Lord taught me the meaning of faith! …so then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (see Romans 10:17), for “…without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:16).” I found that the more I was denying my “self” (see Mark 8:34), the easier it became to allow myself to be led by his Spirit.
I learned that He is my heavenly Father and that He sent His only begotten son, Jesus (see John 3:16) to cleanse me of all my sins (see Acts 2:38; Heb. 9:22; 2 Cor. 7:1) and to reconcile me to a glorious relationship with Him (see 2 Cor. 5:18; Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:20; and Heb. 2:17).
God had both forgiven and pardoned me of my sin-debt, as; “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (see Isaiah 43:25 and Hebrews 10:17).
The Holy Spirit, Word and God’s holy presence repeatedly convicted me of my sins and upon repentance I was duly converted so that my sins were blotted out entirely in the presence of the Lord (see Acts 3:19, 4:29, and 13:52).
I have been praying to reach out to others whom Satan has in bondage. It is my desire to reach, teach, comfort and encourage our youth in juvenile hall centers all over the world.
I hope this testimony has been a blessing to you.