I Thought God Could Never Love a Convicted Murderer. I Was Wrong.

How I found eternal life on death row.

I grew up in the 1960s in one of the many daisy-chain suburbs surrounding Los Angeles. Seven of us, two adults and five children, struggled for living space in a tiny two-bedroom rental house. My father worked on an assembly line during the day; my mother worked nights as a waitress. Our family was hard-working, but the foundation was dysfunctional—a house built on sinking sand.

Church, religion, and the Bible were unknown. Mother was a pill-popper. I don’t know what she took or where she got them, but she was always looking for sleeping pills when she came home in the morning and something to get her going when she left for work in the evening. Whether down or up, she had a fiery temper and would spank us with whatever implement was handy. I always felt that she cared the least for me. I think that feeling was the lead domino in a spiraling loss of self-esteem. One day, when I was nine, she abruptly ran off with the cook where she worked. Perhaps she would have contacted us had it not been for a car wreck that ended her life shortly thereafter.

Dad, who never had more than a social drink, rapidly found solace in alcohol. One morning, I awoke to find him molesting me. Eventually the police intervened, but he and my brothers were able to convince them that I was only having a bad dream.

That was the proverbial last straw. I felt isolated and unloved by a mother who had abandoned me, a father who had molested me, and siblings who seemed indifferent. So at age 10 I ran away from home, only to be picked up as a runaway. For three years, my life was a vicious recurring cycle: running away from foster homes, being picked up like a stray dog, and being sent back to juvenile hall. All told, I stayed in eight foster homes. …

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