Sunday, June 08, 2008

A Mother's Nightmare Through the Legal System

I am Todd Newmiller's Mother.

In a recent visit with Todd, after the appellate court’s decision to confirm his conviction, Todd shared the feeling that no one in America really cares about the wrongly convicted because they don’t believe it applies to their lives and that it couldn’t happen to them. Our family is a good example why every American should care about the wrongly convicted.

Our family is hard working and committed to the Constitution of the United States and in caring for our world and its people. Bill, as noted on the opening page, is a retired Air Force officer and English professor at the United States Air Force Academy. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist, working with children diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder and their families. Our daughter is an Internal Medicine physician, our son-in-law has a degree in Russian and Political Science, Todd has a degree in Communications and our youngest son, Joel, has a degree in Chemistry. Our eight year old granddaughter has her own blog site focusing on saving the earth. We live in a modest home in the Briargate area of Colorado Springs. Neither Bill nor I grew up privileged but we have always placed a high premium on education and leaving the world a better place. We are not so different from many middle-class Americans who work for a living.

Yet, as our website demonstrates, we are fighting in what currently feels like a losing battle to free our son from a wrongful conviction. We continue to be stunned by our experience with the legal system.

As a mother, I can’t begin to tell you what it is like to have sheriff deputies arrive at your door asking for your youngest son, telling you he was involved in a “tiff” the previous night; nothing serious. By the end of the hour you realize the police have lied to you. It was no tiff, there has been a stabbing and both of your sons were there. Further, the Captain calls and tells you they want to interview your sons as witnesses; he tells me that Brad Orgill, our son’s business partner, stabbed someone the previous night. This is the most serious and devastating news we have ever received and we knew that no one in such a situation should proceed without legal counsel. However, by the time Bill and I met then-Captain Shannon in person he threatened that our sons will be suspects instead of witnesses if they use their Constitutional rights to counsel before talking with the sheriff. He later made good on his threat. We are surprised when Shannon tells us that Brad Orgill had already been released. We called the only attorney we knew; he agrees to represent Todd and offers us assistance in finding an attorney for Joel. Thus began our journey through this legal nightmare.

By the end of the night, both of our sons are free and safe. They are stunned to learn that the previous night someone has died from a stab wound. As they process the events with us, both of our sons state they do not know what happened, but that Brad Orgill was in a fight the previous night and was covered in blood; on his face, on his clothing, on his shoes. I am shaken to the core to learn that our sons were present during a fight and a young man in the prime of his life has died.

Two days later, we drive our son, Todd, to the sheriff’s department where he is officially charged with second degree murder. Ricky Frady, the person ultimately leading the pack to charge Todd, loudly pronounces to Todd in our presence as he handcuffs him, that he is being charged with the murder of Anthony Madril. I sob as they lead Todd to the CJC to book him; Bill and I spend the entire night at CJC as we wait to post bond for Todd and bring him home with us. Trying to process all of this in the lobby of the CJC in the middle of the night was nothing short of surreal; listening to a bail bondswoman talk about her favorite books, the “Left Behind” series added to the surreal feeling that you have spent the night in hell.

But the nightmare was just beginning.


Anonymous said...

Clearly, our justice system has not been just at all in your son's case. I hope, trust, and pray that "murder will out," and "truth will out" (Shakespeare) eventually. It's a crime that Todd must remain in prison when, to my understanding, he is clearly innocent and Brad Orgill has never been arrested for being at least an accomplice in this tragedy. If Orgill were arrested and tried, perhaps the truth would be revealed. I hope Todd can spend his time in prison productively, perhaps educating himself about the law and and the legal system so that, when he is finally released, he will be a spokesman for justice, true justice. My prayers are with you and your whole family, especially Todd.
Suzanne Wheeler

Gloria Newmiller said...

Thank you so much for your prayers and words of encouragement, especially for Todd, who is quite discouraged at this time. Our family and Todd's attorney firmly believe that "truth will out." What we have experienced in our system to date is only injustice and the tendency for a system to reinforce the myth of its own infallibility. After we win Todd's release (which is taking everything we have at this time in terms of money, time and energy), we will devote our resources to changing the system with Todd's strong voice to underscore our message.