"I was once a fortunate man, but I lost it, I know not how."
-- Marcus Aurelius.I'm often asked how I came to be in prison, and the simple answer is, obviously, "I got caught." The full story, though is a pretty good one, even if it does take a while to tell. Please bear with me:I was raised by a pack of wild dogs on an Indian reservation in South Dakota. I ran wild for the 7+ years we were there, but also got an excellent education thanks to my mom. She taught me to read before kindergarten, made sure I played musical instruments, got me arts and crafts supplies, chemistry sets and construction sets, microscopes and telescopes, and provided me with countless books, including a cherished set of encyclopedias. She encouraged me to use my imagination and write my own stories. And, most importantly, she encouraged me to learn on my own and praised me often for my efforts. Plus, she let me run with the dogs.
My mom is smart with a heart of gold. She put herself through college , graduating Phi Beta Kappa As a single mother with me in tow. Then law school at UC Berkeley. How she managed I have no idea. In the early 70s, she made her way to the Rosebud Reservation in Mission, South Dakota -- one of the poorest places in the United States. -- to work as a legal services attorney. She eventually became the director there and a well respected advocate for Indian people.She married a fellow lawyer and had two more children when I was 10 and 11, respectively.We later moved to Boulder Colorado, where mom worked for a national Indian rights organization. She decided to return to school -- premed this time. After a few years, we've moved to Chicago where mom attended medical school and I, high school. Her husband didn't come along, just us boys. And, once again, she graduated with honors, one of the oldest students in her class. Since then, she's practiced medicine all over and has established several free clinics, along the way
After high school, I entered the physical therapy program at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. I had student loans for the most part, painted houses in the summer and cooked in a variety of restaurants during the school year. Unfortunately, however, I had discovered drinking in high school and my studies suffered as a result.In addition, I became a bit disenchanted with traditional physical therapy, discovering "holistic" modalities like yoga, clinical massage, acupuncture, that appealed to me more.
Then, in 1989, a year before graduation, adventure called: North to Alaska! The Exxon Valdez oil spill occurred and workers were needed everywhere. The perfect summer job, right? So, I ended up working on a fishing boat, in a cannery, some restaurants and a logging camp -- well past the time I should have returned to school. And in the end I discovered commercial diving, working underwater, mostly on fishing boats at dock, repairing piers and such, doing salvage and recovery work and doing video inspections. Fun stuff!But the ocean in Alaska's cold! So it was off to the warm Gulf of Mexico in Texas, and along the east coast for a while, then back to the Gulf and finally to Seattle, where I settled down, sorta. I started my own diving business, got married to a beautiful woman, sold sailboats on the side and eventually went back to school to become a clinical massage therapist and yoga instructor -- doing work I loved. I had a successful and busy practice in a medical clinic, doing mostly insurance work for work- related and auto accident injuries along with a number of people with chronic pain. My specialty was deep tissue myofascial release or Rolfing, which is often painful, but it has excellent results, the main goal being optimum posture and biomechanics. I also focused on neuromuscular reeducation, teaching a movement akin to yoga.Business was booming and life was grand.
"Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make prideful." -- EuripidesBut it wasn't to last. My wife and I split up and I started dating a few of my clients -- a big mistake it would turn out. One day,a young woman who owed a considerable amount of money from her insurance settlement accused me of sexual misconduct as a way to avoid her debt. And it worked, of course: all it takes is a single unfounded accusation like that for a man to be considered guilty these days, and she knew it. I was able to prove that her claim was physically impossible, but the damage was done. A former client I had briefly dated outside the office -- a "woman scorned" -- heard the accusation and jumped on the bandwagon, making one of her own to hurt me. Everything done in my office was always strictly professional, but 2 such claims back to back was too much for the medical clinic to handle, and I had to leave. However, I soon found an even nicer office and a new group of physicians to work with. Needless to say, I stopped dating clients. Anyway, my new practice thrived, and I was still able to help people each day.
Until "The Boat" -- The Boat changed everything. Answering a tiny ad in an obscure sailing newsletter, I took a ferry out to the San Juan Islands, near Seattle to look at a boat for sale: a 41' x 24' ocean cruising catamaran that still needed a lot of work. In fact, it was still in the woods off the beach and yet to be launched. It needed everything: keels, rudders, engine, steering system, mast, rigging i.e. the works. It was essentially just a fiberglass shell ready to customize as I saw fit. A major opportunity and challenge that I couldn't pass up. Plus the price was right. One condition of the sale was that it had to be out of there within six months so a house could be built on the property. So, I dropped everything else to work on The Boat.A huge mistake, as I was in way over my head. I didn't even know what a hole saw was. But I was in love and just try talking sense to a boat nut. I spent every waking moment putting that boat together, staying up days at a time and drinking way too much whiskey and smoking way too much weed as a new bachelor. But I got launched in time. Once in the water, I fully intended to go back to work but instead just kept drinking and working on The Boat. I eventually closed my practice grew a beard. I became the marina's handyman and diver. Life was good, but I become a regular drunk -- a boat bum. I drank so much that I would often blackout, remembering nothing of the day or night before. I became delusional and depressed. Then, finally after years of self-destructive drinking, I had what can only be called a nervous breakdown. I walked away from the boat, from my truck and tools, everything I own, and caught a flight to the Caribbean.
I guess I had some kind of vague, misguided notion that I could just run away from myself, that I could quit drinking and get clean and sober in the Virgin Isles, eating fruit and doing yoga on the beach or something. Instead, of course, it was Margaritaville. Bottles of rum were cheaper than bottled water. I got hooked on the drink called the Bushwhacker: tequila, vodka, rum, gin, vermouth, Bailey's Irish cream, and Kahlúa blended with ice, half a banana, and chocolate syrup to taste. Delicious! Couldn't get enough of them. From boat bum to beach bum. I first worked on a boat taking people scuba diving, then as a cook, bartender, and waiter in most every restaurant on St. John. Cocaine and crack are cheap and plentiful in the Caribbean and most of my co-workers were addicts. This scared me and I realized that I had to get the hell out of there, quick.So I caught a plane to Santa Barbara, a real paradise, where I again hoped to get sober and straightened out. I rented a room and waited tables at fancy restaurants, sold women's shoes at Nordstrom's, sold thousand dollar health club memberships, and did stone and tile remodeling work that I really enjoyed. I dated a super model look-alike with a millionaire father. But I was still drinking: drowning my sorrows for ruining a wonderful marriage, abandoning a perfect career and losing The Boat. Then after only nine months, for no good reason at all, I found myself running away again.
This time it was Kansas City, Missouri. Someone had once told me it was a good place to find a good woman and settle down. I immediately found a great little apartment, and a great job in outside sales. And I made enough money in one month to take the next two off: to drink myself to death. I got a hold of some stained glass materials and tools and made beautiful pieces of art while I was at it. Then the next sales job went the same way: one month on, two off. I just drank whiskey and did stained glass. At the end of my short stay in KC, I waited tables at a five-star steakhouse and quickly made enough to hit the road again.
Why I came to Texas. I'll never understand; but I'd always heard Austin was a pretty cool place. As usual, I found a nice apartment and a good job in sales right away. And as usual, I began the same sorry pattern of some months on and many off, to wallow in booze and regrets. This time, my hobby besides drinking and stained glass was writing movie screenplays -- "perfect crime" thrillers. Somehow, I had gotten it into my head that this was my calling, and I would stay up for days and nights in a row, creating scenes enacting them out, assuming the various characters identities for timing and dialogue. I began living in a fantasy world. I drank more than ever before, if that's even possible, and I now suffered from DTs. I would shake like a leaf and be sick if my alcohol level went too low. I needed at least 6 ounces of whiskey for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, not to mention the cases of beer in between. I contemplated suicide on a daily basis, then finally went out and bought a handgun -- something like James Bond would use, of course -- and would sit with it against my head for many nights afterwards. But now that I had a gun, I thought, "why not be a real, live private detective, like in my screenplays." So that became the plan. After all, weren't a lot of the classic movie gumshoes alcoholics themselves, with their feet up on the desk and a bottle of booze in the desk drawer? Fortunately, I was arrested at this point.
Near the end of 2000, shortly before my latest fall from grace, I worked selling a service where people could buy used cars at auction. The company placed classified ads for cars for sale to lure potential customers. After a few sales, as usual, I quit, having enough money to drink on through the holidays. The job had given me an idea for a screenplay about an international car smuggling ring, and I got to work on that also. However, I ended up blacking out for the entire month of December and January of the new year; I couldn't remember things; I doubt I left the apartment, but who knows? Very scary. Instead of whiskey, I'd recently switched to gallons of vodka, so maybe that had something to do with it. My best guess is that I made a serious effort to finally drink myself to death but failed somehow.
So, now it's February, 2001 and halfway through, my younger brother, who I once helped raise, and who once looked up to me shows up on my doorstep, asking me for the $5000 I'd borrowed the year before. "Sure, bro," I say, "and don't worry about the money, I gotcha." (Yikes!).In the seriously screwed up state of mind I was in at the time, I came real close to taking the easy way out with a gun in my mouth. But then I figured that the only right thing to do was first get the money somehow to pay my brother before killing myself. I could act out an idea from my latest screenplay. So, that's what I did: on a Monday, I placed an ad to sell a car that didn't exist -- Best/First Cash Offer. That same day, I also called a psychiatrist to be seen as soon as possible. Wednesday, I returned calls about the car and made an appointment to sell it on Friday. Thursday I saw the psychiatrist, who agreed that I was completely nuts and prescribed some medication. On Friday after a sleepless night and as drunk and stoned as possible, I went ahead to meet the buyer. After all, it probably wasn't going to work anyway, and I could always call it off at any time, right? Let's just see what happens...
I was such an idiot that I was surprised when more than one person came to collect the car: a man and his wife. I explained that the car was being detailed and was on its way, and could I please count the money? " No problem," the fellow says. He opens his minivan's sliding door, moves some groceries to the backseat, and gets in, motioning for me to join them. (Apparently, there were two small children in the very back seat thatI never noticed.) I'm handed an envelope with $8000, and as I pretend to count the money, I'm saying to myself, "what in the hell are you doing?! This is insane! Just hand the money back and leave!" But then: "you're doing this for your brother." So I say to the guy, "I'm sorry, but I really need this." And at the same time flash my gun needlessly and hit the ground running. He chases me quite a ways to my car, and as soon as I get in. He's pounding on the window; but I soon lost, dodging a good Samaritan in a monster truck who tries to block me and gives chase before I eventually get away. I must've been a pretty pitiful robberOf course, my first stop was the liquor store. I paid my brother, what I owed him and refused to tell them where the money came from. About 10 days later the psych meds kicked in: it was like a switch had been thrown in my brain, and I was a new man; I was thinking positively for the first time in years, and gone were the persistent thoughts of suicide. I soon landed a decent job in sales for a remodeling company. I was drinking less and even dating again. Then one evening over drinks with a neighbor, while discussing our respective psychiatric issues, I said, "you want to hear crazy? Let me tell you about crazy..." and I told her the whole story, embellishing, I'm sure, like some kind of Sopranos character.
"Rule number one: keep your -- -- mouth shut." -- Fat Tony.So began my descent into hell -- from one kind of suicidal depression to another. I was arrested just days later and went through months of the most horrific alcohol withdrawal imaginable in the county jail. For one week early on, I was left alone in a bare "psych tank" with no clothes and only a hole in the floor to relieve myself in. I had to beg for toilet paper and water. I couldn't hold down any food. I slept on the concrete floor with no blanket, and I tried to sleep as much as possible. Cruel and unusual punishment? Nope, just standard operating procedure for addicts and the insane.
And so began my introduction to the criminal justice system in America. After a few months, a court-appointed attorney finally met with me for 20 minutes or so. That was the last I heard from them until a brief appearance at my arraignment and then again two days before my sentencing trial. I had pled guilty. And in the end, he handed my head to the prosecution on a silver platter.
Apparently, my case was cherry picked by the newly appointed district attorney in order to make headlines in the news: "Bradley Tough on Crime!" I was never offered a plea agreement. I was never allowed an evidentiary hearing. And if you didn't have a violent career criminal to prosecute, he would create his own, accusing me at my sentencing trial of murder, kidnapping, rape, blackmail, bomb making, and more based upon nothing but speculation and his own cruel imagination. There was zero evidence of any other crimes other than once forging a roommates check for pizza. (He left me with a huge long-distance phone bill. Which doesn't make it right) I have never hurt anyone in my life, nor ever before been in trouble with the law. But listen to this:Bradley: you plan crimes so you weren't caught, didn't you?
Me: not at all.Bradley: Of course, if we didn't catch you with the others,we don't know, do we?
Me: that's totally false. I have -- that's ridiculous. That's a ridiculous notion. I've never committed any crime other than --Bradley: And someone who wanted to use those kinds of thoughts, if they had that person and they tortured them and they raped them, and nobody knew where they were, and then they wanted to finish them off, and they believe that, they'd have to kill them and bury them, wouldn't they?
Me: I don't understand the question.Bradley: Yeah. And if you're wrong, somebody is dead, right?
Me: that's a very -- I think you're very mean person. I think you know that I'm not this criminal.That's just one example of how things went. There was constant mention of murder, kidnapping, rape, and other horrible, total imaginary crimes. It was a travesty of justice, which is apparently the norm in Texas. Here are just a few more examples from way too many to include here:
Bradley:(regarding probation). That's a very compassionate approach. But in a case like this, with a man like that, that kind of thinking will get someone else killed...... But maybe the most frightening one is the little, what I like to call a rape kit. The detail ought to scare you to death. (This was zip ties, tape, and strain found in the boat/tool bag along with a " bomb! that he knew prior to trial was not in fact a bomb at all.)...
Bradley:... He doesn't leave a trail. I'm not here to say, I can prove everything up. I really don't care how many of you believe or don't believe.Then we have the coup de grace:
Bradley:... what punishment could you possibly have come up with to make sure that person did not kill, hurt, maim, rape, whatever anyone? And there is only one answer. And I ask you to start in this case with a life sentence. If you cannot unanimously agree on that, then moved to 99 and work your way down. But I guarantee you will sleep a lot better, and the world will be a safer place, if Eric Remerowski received a life sentence. Thank you.Unbelievable. In my mind, this was prosecutorial misconduct. But the jury was terrified as intended, and after six hours, returned with a sentence of 50 years. This is clearly excessive, even by Texas standards; and there can be no doubt that I was sentenced for more than just robbery. In nine years of prison, I have yet to meet anyone serving more than 10 to 15 years for robbery as a first offense; some are even sentenced to probation. Only the worst of the worst and habitual offenders are doing the kind of time I received. I know many killers doing much less.
Unfortunately, I've exhausted all appeals. My only hope now is a commutation (reduction) of sentence. For that to happen, the judge, Dist. Atty. (Bradley), and Sheriff must recommend it to the parole board, who then recommended to the governor.**.
So, anyway, that's my story, as they say, and I'm sticking to it. As I've mentioned before, I feel that my incarceration has been a real blessing overall, for it's allowed me to regain my sobriety, my sanity, and my soul. I've had the opportunity to grow spiritually that I may never have had otherwise. It took about three years to finally get my head on straight, and five to be truly convinced that I'm ready to rejoin society. Now it's just a matter of enduring and hoping and praying for sentence reduction and/or laws to change.
Currently, I'm not entitled to receive "good - conduct time" applied to my sentence, because my crime is considered "aggravated" due to the gun involved. Aggravated felons in Texas aren't entitled to good time credit and must do at least half their sentence before being considered for parole; and even then, one is likely to be denied and not considered again for another 3 to 5 years. Good conduct time has always existed as an incentive for inmates to behave themselves while in prison, making it easier and everyone involved, especially the staff. To deny it to the supposedly most dangerous and potentially most troublesome prisoners doesn't make sense. Many think, "why behave if it doesn't help me see parole any sooner?" The laws need to change to allow all inmates their good conduct time. Texas Rep. Jim McReynolds, Texas House Corrections Committee, is someone responsible for this issue. A new resolution would help reduce prison overcrowding, reduce costs to the taxpayer, and allow many deserving people the chance to parole and to be reunited with their families.
I'm always thinking about parole -- about a second chance at life -- and what I'll do once I'm free again, if ever. Besides the basics, like a place to live and a job to get me started, I intend to join a church of some kind and surround myself with good, spiritual people. Finding a good woman, of course, is a must. I'm looking forward to arts and crafts fairs, music concerts, hiking and camping, canoeing, swimming, restaurants and home-cooked meals, and catching up on all the many years of movies I've missed. Once I'm settled, I would also like to volunteer with therapy dogs, taking them to hospitals and nursing homes to cheer people up and boost their recovery, as a dog's unconditional love is so healing and contagious. And eventually I would like to work in transpersonal hypnotherapy and spiritual counseling, mostly for those suffering from addiction and depression.
You know, I have to admit that sometimes the weight of such a lengthy prison sentence seams like too much to bear, and I think about checking out -- early. Better luck next time, right? After all, were really eternal, spiritual beings who never actually die (a fact, not a belief). But I know that I would ultimately regret it and just be avoiding important lessons that I'd have to make up for in another way. And as difficult as things may be -- as much as we may suffer -- it's all about learning and growing from the experience. So, when I feel low, which is pretty damn often, especially with so much time left to endure, I try to remember that my soul's spiritual evolution is more important than my being free or happy right now. I try to be thankful for the simplest things like my health, clean air, water, food, and the relative luxury of prison life in the United States compared to some other countries or the daily life in the slums of cities around the world. It could be worse, as they say. But, honestly, I'd take freedom in the most impoverished environment over imprisonment in the wealthiest one. I really don't believe there's anything worse than prison -- to be locked away and forgotten.
Thankfully, I have this blog, and Mystic Ministries.org, and all of you out there to give me purpose and meaning in life and a reason to make the most of each day, regardless of my situation. I'd like to instill this same sense of purpose in others. If anything I share can make a difference in someone else's life, then I'm blessed..
Thanks again for listening and caring. I so appreciate your letters and e-mails. Keep them coming! Bye for now.
**If you agree that my sentence is excessive, please let them know. Your letters and e-mails could make all the difference. Feel free to use the prewritten letters, I made about my commutation and good time. The letters are listed on my website MysticMinistries.org