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Angel’s Death at Christmas

Dear Friends:

The “botched” Florida Execution this past week has brought national attention to the death penalty and the cruelty of even the most “humane” methods of execution. While it is a victory that now Florida and California have suspended their executions because of this, it comes only through the intense prolonged suffering of Angel Diaz. It took 34 minutes before he closed his eyes forever on an unjust world.

Mary Meehan, a selfless and dedicated New York attorney and member of NYADP worked tirelessly on Angel’s behalf, pleading his legal innocence without compensation. She went to collect some of his meager personal belongings this week from the prison. I think all of us in the abolitionist community extend our deep gratitude to Mary for doing what she did to try to save Angel’s Life. She has given me permission to share with you a statement she issued prior to his execution. I hope her words inspire us to work towards seeing that no more Angels are executed.

EXECUTION STATEMENT

MARY MEEHAN, ESQ.

If Angel Diaz had received justice from any court in the United States, none of us would be standing here today. For more than twenty years, no court has granted relief. One must seriously question if any judge ever read his transcript.

Angel’s case was so flawed that it might have been the only case studied by the American Bar Association for their recent report on Florida’s death penalty system. Even a skilled Hollywood writer would find it impossible to make up a fictional story like Angel’s.


Put yourself in Angel’s shoes.

You’re a Puerto Rican in America who doesn’t speak English. Your lawyer doesn’t speak Spanish.

You meet him the first time TWO DAYS before your capital murder trial. Your life is at stake. You don’t even know his name. He is unprepared.

You arrive in court wearing handcuffs and shackles.

When you tell the judge this is wrong, she says you have two choices: this competent attorney or represent yourself. You haven’t finished high school. You don’t know the law. You need an interpreter. When you ask the judge for two to three weeks to prepare the case. She says, no. The trial starts today.

You hobble around the courtroom, still wearing shackles. Fourteen officers stand at the walls, and a Plexiglas shield separates you from the jury.

You are not allowed to call witnesses until after the prosecution rests. When they rest, the judge says your witnesses must be ready by 9:30 the following morning. There is no time to call them. You cannot present your defense.

Three of the four state witnesses recanted their testimony. One swore the police forced her to lie and threatened jail. Another, a jailhouse snitch, like Angel’s lawyer, only spoke English. There were no eyewitnesses that testified you were at the bar or were the gunman. The shooter received a life sentence after implicating you, and then his two Massachusetts murder charges were dropped. The shooter has admitted you are innocent.

Yet today, Angel Diaz is going to die in spite of the Puerto Rican governor’s plea for mercy to Governor Jeb Bush.

Two days ago, Angel Diaz stated adamantly that the people in the state of Florida must look at what is going on in their own criminal justice system. For him, it is too late. But, he wants every citizen to understand the truth and seek changes. Because the next time… it could be you or someone you love… instead of Angel and his family.

Contact: Mary Meenan 914 330-1439, marymeenan@aol.com

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