Thursday, June 5, 2014

Death Watch Journal - Entry #1

Arnold Prieto Jr. has been a contributor to Minutes Before Six as both a writer and an artist since 2010. Arnold is an incredibly talented artist and an honest writer.  His words and art come from the heart and he has an enormous heart. Arnold is a son, a brother, a father, and a loyal friend.   He is loved by many people on both sides of the bars.  On May 12 he received an order (here and here) for his execution, and he was moved to Death Watch on May 15, where he will be held until his execution on January 21, 2015. This news has been crushing not only to Arnold, but to those of us who know and care about him.

Arnold will be keeping a journal from Death Watch and we will post his entries as they are received.  Please check back regularly for them, and show your support in the comments section.  

Arnold’s birthday is June 9.  Birthday cards, letters, and emails and donations through Jpay are welcome and appreciated.  Please let Arnold know that he matters and you are thinking of him.  You will not regret reaching out.

Death Watch Journal - Entry #1
By Arnold Prieto Jr.

May 12, 2014
As the mist of my early morning dream of walking down the long corridors of a futuristic warehouse dissipated, I heard my name being called from far away.

It was 6:32 a.m. and the far away voice was that of a female mailroom staff member: “Prieto 999149? Show me your ID!  You have a certified letter….”

As I was walking to my cell door in a morning fog, I instantly realized what was actually waiting for me at my door… Death.

After getting my ID back from the mailroom lady, she opened the legal letter before me and inspected the legal contents without reading the actual legal papers. She passed it to me after she saw that it was cleared of any contraband.  She walked off to continue her workday, her life, not knowing that she was a messenger of death. I fault her not, of course, for doing her job.

Sure enough, the letter contained an order to set an execution date (add link) and my warrant of execution (add link).  As I read the order I heard clear as a bell the ticking hand very loudly…click…and it started to tick.  The cosmic clock on the waist on Azrael has started for me.  I’ll be quite honest with you; while I read my legal papers and how my life had an expiration date, my heart sank to the pit of my stomach. As you can see from the order of execution and warrant, my number is to be punched on January 21st, 2015. My ticket has been called.“149! 149!” calls the Angel of Death. So I step forward and out of the formation of “normal” and on to the conveyer belt towards the Texas killing machine behind four other men. And so the process starts now…

May 15, 2014

Today is Thursday night and I have been moved to Death Watch. Death Watch is a section of fourteen cells that have 24/7 surveillance.  In each cell there is a camera that has night vision as well. It took three days to be moved because TDCJ had to process the warrant that validated my execution date.

I was already waiting for the move, so I had all my property packed and ready to go.  After lunch I was escorted to the Captain’s office for the interview with her.  The Captain proceeded to tell me that I was given an execution date for January 21, 2015 and basically, what I needed to know and gave me a copy of The Execution Summary and Notification of Execution Date

Captain Tamez did her job very well and professionally, she answered all my questions with short and precise answers.  During my interview with the Captain, my property was being packed into a laundry buggy to be x-rayed and shaken down for any pills and any other contraband.  I am not allowed to keep my “KOPs”(“keep on person”) medications.  In my case, it is my blood pressure meds.  I now have to depend on a pill tech to bring me my medication twice a day.

After my call with Captain Tamez, I was escorted straight to A-Pod 12 cell in the Death Watch section.  As I walked in I heard my name called from all those guys that know me, but as I walked into the Death Watch Section, I heard four guys call out: Meme (Manuel Vazquez), T-Rock (Trottie), Big White (Garcia White), and Miguel Angel Paredes (Mexican Dude).

The loudest was that of Mexican Dude: “Prieto!! Man, I got a cold bucket of water!!!” He made that comment because we were living on the same pod before he was moved to Death Watch!  He was not given any kind of legal notice as I was, so on Wednesday, May14, he was called to the Captain’s office and he was told that he had an execution date for October. Mexican Dude actually thought he was confused with me because his name (Parades) is similar and he was living in 7 cell while I was living in 17 cell.

I feel for my young friend, for that’s one hell of a rude awakening indeed!  The guards packed all his property while I packed mine myself. Now we are but one cell apart from one another.  He is holding on strong….

As I now sit on Death Watch, in this cold cell penning this entry, I cannot help but think of the opening of an Iron Maiden song called: “Hallow Be Thy Name.”  It opens like this:

“I’m waiting in my cold cellWhen the bells begin to chime….”

Unfortunately, the song is about a condemned man sentenced to the Gallow’s Pole. I’ll be right back…

I just had to stare up into the camera for a minute or so!  I needed to stare back at it for a while to let it know that I too can stare back at it! And yes, I did blink first.

Yeah, I can now see that it’s going to take me a while before I get used to it.  I have no choice but to get used to it somehow…

Arnold Prieto 999149
Polunsky Unit
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77351


Heike said...

My dearest friend ... you are in my heart and soul forever ... thank you for your thoughts and words here on Minutes before six ... I love you ... your little Stern

D Ruelas said...

My dearest friend, Arnold. I truly appreciate your willingness to share this journal with us. One of the motivations for this webpage is to open the eyes of people in the "free" world as to the Death Penalty and all that goes on on Death Row. Your journal will surely be an eye opener, I pray. I know it is not easy to write something like this, exposing your sentiments as the days go by, but am very thankful you decided to go ahead and write this. I love you, dear friend, and pray for you daily. Happy Birthday tomorrow!

Illuusioiden Naamiot said...

The death penalty is so wrong.

Keep your head up Miguel and never give up. The fight ain't over. Much love and blessings.

Illuusioiden Naamiot said...

Keep your head up Arnold and never give up. The fight ain't over. Much love and blessings.


Tommy Ho said...

Arnold. I hope you have the strength and courage to complete this journal. The journal will live on forever. I find myself reverting back to Kevin Varga's journal which has such an impact.

Be strong and God bless.

unique said...

Prieto dont see how only you got screwed with DP. I wanna say that im a pro and anti and doing research on DP. I have come to conclusion that DP is not serving to deter crime. And leaving the condemned under punishment to be executed 20 yrs later its not exactly justice rather cruel. My son murdered during a robbery and its very hard. Yet, 10 yrs later I cant say I forgot but I this date if people respnsible were to face justice I would rather they be given lwop so they can think everyday on the precious life that was taken from me. And with this hanging still on my shoulder ,I rather forgive , dont wanna think of the pain your loved ones have to face too. I feel that the death penalty should be reserve for worst of worst, people like bundy, tom sells,who indeed had no regard for human life. I believe you are still human and should be spared.

Cassie Gonzales said...

I love you my sweet cousin Jr your cousin Cassie

Ruby Garland said...

Dearest Arnold,

This missive comes to you posthumously but nonetheless, with great empathy for you and yours. I cannont imagine what it must feel like to receive a piece of mail that holds your own expiration date written on it. Wow...I also find it difficult to intake the amount of chilly precision with which the staff must have to operate under. It's not like you didn't know it was coming albeit, to actually *see* the finality of it in black and white must have caused a volcano of consternation to immediately begin erupting inside your being.

While all of us here know that you are now finally free, I want to tell you that I wish I had known about you before your departure from this earth and that I thank you for the brief insight into your soul both through your writings and extraordinary artwork. I hope you do not mind that I "stole" two of your offerings for my own personal satisfaction and, it feels as selfish as it sounds.

Please visit your friend, Bart Whitaker, as I feel certain he misses you extensively.

Fly fly fly oh angel of light and forgiveness!

Until we meet, please give my love to my brother and my son, you know who they are...