All done. I did good. Shed a few tears but I was strong.
I received this text from Latoya Hunter-Harvey yesterday. She had just been interviewed and filmed for a movie produced by Texas attorney Linda Broocks, a documentary about mothers whose children are on death row. Latoya was chosen as one of five mothers from across the country.
Her son, Jakeem Towles, is on death row in Greene State Prison near Pittsburgh. He was sentenced in Lancaster on June 11, 2012 following a jury trial for the killing of Cornell Anton Stewart in Columbia on May 7, 2010.
I attended portions of the trial and met his mother, Latoya, but was not there when the jury returned with death.
This is going to be the hardest decision of your lives. This is the hardest thing for all of us.
Part of my heart is gone. I’ve dreaded this day. I’ve dreaded this moment. I don’t know if I’m good enough to do this.
I wish I could sit down and talk with you. I wish we could have a conversation.
You have been attentive jurors. The trust we have in you is deserved.
Defense attorney Patricia Spotts addressing the jurors yesterday afternoon in her closing argument to save Jakeem Towles from the death penalty.
I stayed in touch with her over the years and had an extensive conversation with her about her trips to Pittsburgh to visit Jakeem in prison. She mentioned another son – Thomas Greene – who she said had been sentenced unfairly as the only African-American involved in a crime. I briefly looked him up several years ago but did not research his case thoroughly. And then last year came the good news that Greene had appealed his sentence to the Superior Court and won and would be resentenced shortly. I said I would come.
I spent the weekend before on the internet looking up his record and the records of everyone else involved in the crime. I made a chart to keep track of it all:
Name Age Sentence Judge
Kyle Allenworth 17 4-10 Wright
Bradley Isaacs 18 5-15 Wright
Dylan March 20 5-1/2-20 Knisely
Joshua Maldonado 18 8-1/2-20 Reinaker
Thomas Greene 17 16-35 Miller
It was an eye-opening shock yet again to the blatant racism in the Lancaster County justice system.
And his re-sentencing by Judge Margaret Miller would be a terrible blow to the 20 family and friends who attended and were hoping for “time-served.”
Through the struggles and the pain, Latoya, has raised two other children –
Taqoya (pictured below) who graduated from McCaskey last year and Jaqon (pictured in this morning’s post with his mother), her youngest son who also graduated from McCaskey this past Thursday – two days before Latoya was interviewed for the documentary. Latoya wrote, “Through all of our storms, he made it through.”
There are stories that need to be told. There are terrible injustices that need to be corrected. Rarely does so much happen to one family. Rarely does a mother stay this strong and hopeful through it all.
Jakeem Towles should not be on death row and Thomas Greene has done his time and should be free. LIP News will stay on these stories until justice is done.