No matter who we are or where we’re at, as humans we have all been victims of judgment and humiliation. We all have our own perspectives and beliefs about issues surrounding our own lives. So hopefully through reading this you’ll learn a valuable lesson relevant to your own life or that of someone else who you know. May this help you come to realize who I am as a human, as well as others in my situation.
Since arriving here on Florida’s Death Row on June 5, 2013, I’ve met a lot of good men. We may not always agree on things. It can be difficult to understand others who suffer from mental health issues or possess the IQ of a child. At the end of the day we are all facing our own personal problems and feel uncertain of our fate. But there is never a dull moment around here, and there’s a lot of talent hidden within these walls. There’s a lot to be learned here, for both you and me.
Prior to coming to Death Row I had already spent about 16 years in open population, with the exception of three trips to close management (which is basically solitary confinement under much worse conditions than Death Row). At one point here in Florida, inmates on close management were only allowed a Bible, writing materials, and personal hygiene if they could afford it. Of course, the Department of Corrections would issue toothbrushes, toothpaste, and toilet paper, along with a bar of Pride soap. Items manufactured by a corporation that employed inmates fortunate to have these jobs, paying them between 15 and 45 cents per hour. But guys on close management weren’t among those fortunate individuals. If you were sent to close management it was because you had been caught breaking the rules in open population. However, as is the case with corruption that takes place in law enforcement, so it is in the Department of Corrections as well. And where there is corruption there is false judgment and humiliation imposed upon the individual. For example, while at Holmes Correctional Institution in 2004 – 2005 I was wrongfully charged with spoken threats towards an officer. As a result, my record was scarred, and from this point forward – going off an “inmate’s statement” surrounding threats I’d never made – I was wrongfully labeled as a threat. I learned later that the officer who had accused me of that charge was stabbed in a totally different incident. Make no mistake, not all correctional officers are corrupt. All in all I had already served approximately six or seven years in solitary confinement on close management in different segments prior to coming to Death Row in 2013. So I had already suffered conditions attached to solitary confinement before my admission to Death Row.
In all Florida capital cases, the law mandates that each case be subject to an automatic review by the Florida Supreme Court. This process is called a direct appeal. Seven justices of the court hear oral arguments from the counsel for the person sentenced to death as well as the State before issuing a final ruling. Very rarely will the Florida Supreme Court rule against the trial courts in these types of cases. Once the Florida Supreme Court issues their decision, a mandate will follow announcing that the lower court’s decision has been upheld. It’s then up to the individual sentenced to death whether to proceed with further “post-conviction” appeals. Unlike the direct appeal before the Florida Supreme Court, these appeals are not mandatory. Meaning that the person sentenced to death has the “right” to either pursue further appeals, or waive all further appeals.
Those who opt to waive their appeals – accepting their guilt, responsibility, and the sentence imposed by the lower court and upheld by the Florida Supreme Court – become subjected to humiliation by their fellow Death Row inmates, as well as others who work as attorneys or advocates against the death penalty. These individuals are often referred to as “volunteers” simply because they own up to their mistakes and are ready to face the consequences. Unless an individual is under severe, life threatening conditions, no one wishes to die. But for someone who knows their case better than anyone else, and the reality of never getting off Death Row – much less “out” of prison all together – closure will only come through execution. Whatever their reason for making such a grave decision, these men and women are still human beings and don’t deserve to be humiliated.
On July 9, 2015, the Florida Supreme Court issued its mandate in my case, upholding the lower court’s decision to impose a death sentence upon me. I, on my own – due to the fear of needles – issued a notice to the warden requesting to be executed by the electric chair. Roughly in 2000 or right before, many lawyers challenged the use of execution by electricity due to a botched execution. As a result, the Florida legislature adopted a new means of execution: “lethal injection”. Once this new execution method was adopted, the State preserved the electric chair for use as either a backup method or in case an individual elected their execution be by electric chair over lethal injection. My decision has only brought me further humiliation from other Death Row inmates and those opposed to capital punishment. A storm of media reporters also questioned my intentions. This is evidenced in an article written by The Tampa Bay Times on October 22, 2015. Though I caution you that this reporter often publicized only what he wanted you to know and left out relevant facts or issues. Further unwanted attention can be read in an article from the Daily Mail, which ran the headline: “Double murderer becomes first inmate to demand death by Florida’s infamous “Ol’ Sparky” electric chair rather than by lethal injection.”
Shortly after the news sparked attention all across the world I was contacted by a group of producers from England. They wanted to interview me for what would become part of a documentary series involving several Death Row inmates. The title of the show is called “I Am a Killer” and can be located on Netflix. Don’t judge a book by its cover before you check the documentary out. My story was the last to be shown and, according to many who have watched it, is interesting. As with every other story in the media there was a lot left out that is essential for people to recognize who I am and why I’ve become who I am. For more, please be sure to visit my blog. It’s now up to Chapter 4 and will continue to be updated at least once or twice a month. I encourage you the reader to check out all these references. You may not have experienced anything near what I’ve been through, but you may have unintentionally overlooked someone else who has or is currently dealing with similar issues. Often people view those in prison or on Death Row as being horrible without knowing them or understanding how they became who they are. Remember this: Humans are not natural born murderers.
On August 7, 2017, my death sentence was overturned due to a change in Florida’s death sentencing scheme following the United States Supreme Court ruling in Hurst v Florida (recognized by the Florida Supreme Court in Hurst v State). Since the jury in the penalty phase of my trial voted (10-2) for a death sentence, under Florida’s new law, in light of Hurst, that sentence was “illegal”. A new penalty phase hearing was ordered and after a new jury voted (12-0) for death, the trial court again sentenced me to death on May 15, 2018. So now the case will be sent back before the Florida Supreme Court for its automatic review process and again they will uphold the lower court’s decision.
Day after day, until minutes before six when I am removed from one cell and placed in another in preparation to meet my fate and maker, I’ll be faced with judgment and humiliation from others for my decisions. For the most part I have learned not to be judgmental towards anyone else because it’s not my place to do so. On top of that, we all have our own humiliations to endure each day, so why add to it? At the end of the day, each man or woman will forever be held accountable, facing their own fate. Whether they are innocent or guilty is up to the court to decide, not me. I sincerely hope this story has opened your eyes to a perspective never thought of, and that you have taken the time to review the other resources provided to you. I’m always open for suggestions and comments, and won’t hesitate to respond.
As Ellen always says, “Be kind to one another.” And thank you for your time.
|Wayne Doty 375690|
Florida State Prison
P.O. Box 800
Raiford, FL 32083