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Mama Love would cll out to me as soon as I stepped through the door.  I never realized how much this acknowledgement meant until she died and nobody called out to me when I entered the house that used to be my  home.  I loved being noticed and welcomed when I came home.  I know now it was just another way of her telling me, “I love you, I see you, and I notice you are home.  Your presence matters to me.”  I would take my shoes off and make my way down the hallway (a.k.a. the “hall of fame,” named this because fromt he tops of the shoe racks to the ceiling on botrhe sides the walls were covered with pictures and accomplishments.  School pictures, family pictures, action pictures and any plaques that we had won were proudly displayed for any who cam into our house to see.

As I walked into the kitchen it was my habi to immediately go to Mama Love and give her a hug and kiss.  Mama Love was a big woman.  Her size was comforingly soldid.  You felt her when you hugged her or she hugged you.  Her love surrounded you.  She was warm, alive.  She would then pull back and looking into my eyes ask, “How are you?”  If I said I was good she would not respond, just continure to look into my eyes.  Then, if she was satisfied I was telling the truth, she would turn back to her cooking.

In my house, meals were made with love.  We were not rich, and with four or more boys at any given time eating, simple, less expensive meals were the norm.  Yet, in the years since her passing whenever I have eaten the same hamburger helper meals, they have never been able o compare.  The only thing I can attribure this to is the absense of Mama Love.  I think it was becauise of how much she loved us.  Her cooking was an expression of this love and wanting us to be happy and healthy.

The people that suffered the most from my learning how to cook were my brothers.  We didn’t waste a lot of food in our house so even if I messed up on the measuring of ingredients the meal was served, and in the beginning I messed up a lot.  Mama Love was not one for measurement utensils.  She was from the school of eyeballing it.  What she neglected to mention was that her skill at eyeballing was acquired through years of practice.  Needless to say, in the beginning as loath as she was to throwing food away, sometimes we had McDonald’s, or cereal, or take-out.  Like the first time I made one of my favorite meals, tacos (with soft taco shells of course, because who really likes hard taco shells which crumble or break, and generally are more frustrating than enjoyable) and I “eyeballed” the amount of seasoning, which resulted in taco meat that was inedible and identifiable as taco meat only to me, because I was the one who cooked it.

The next step after the measurements was the amount of time that the food cooked for.  Just as she was not a believer in actually measuring ingredients, she also did not believe in timers.  This was evidenced in her multi-taking abilities.  She would put the food on the stove or even the oven, then give baths, correct homework, coordinate rides to or from practices, dispense discipline and whatever else needed to be done.  No matter what she was doing she knew when the food needed to be stirred, when more or less heat was needed, and even when it was done.  I can’t tell you how many times she would be in other parts of the house and would call out: “Mark/Dan.Leo – stir the food, take it out of the over, turn the stove off.”  It took more time to learn this skill than it did to  measure-to-eyeball ingredients.  I would put food on, then get distracted by my phone or the t.v. or a book.  I would remember what I was supposed to be doing when I smelled the food burning.

This lead to a rule: “If you’re cooking, you’re cooking; everything else can wait.”  The implementation of this rule lead to a dramatic and immediate improvement in the meals I prepared, and my brothers were very appreciative of this.  As my skill increased I began to understand why my Mama Love liked cooking so much.  It felt good to feed my family, to know that they relied on me to provide for them and to make sure that not only it was filling but that it tasted good as well.  On nights that I had successfully made and served dinner I would sit and eat with a deep sense of satisfaction that I had never felt before.  I had accepted responsibility and was helping my family.

Later on, when Mama Love became sick, cooking turned from something I did because I wanted , to something I did because it was needed.  These were some of my first lessons in being a man.  I learned that responsibility meant doing the things that you needed to do instead of only doing things that you wanted to do.  Since Mama Love died, I cannot cook without thinking about her.  The times that we spent in the kitchen are some of the best memories of my life.l  In fact, I don’t like cooking if it is only for myself; for me, cooking is intertwined with family and love.

As I am,

Prince

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What’s going on?  How is everyone?  I know that I told you that I would writ once a month just to let you know that I’m alright and give you guys an update on what’s been going on with me and I haven’t.  I don’t really have any good excuse.  things have been kind of hectic the last couple months and especially the last couple of weeks.  It’s finals time and I just finished writing all of my papers.  Whew – I’m glad that they'[re pretty much over.

So, I’m going to get right to the elephant in the room.  I can’t imagine that you guys are unaware of the court’s decision to deny my appeals and all the news coverage that I’ve been getting in the last couple of months.  Yes, I got shot down but no, it’s not my final appeal.  I don’t know why the DA said that it was my final appeal.  That is far from the truth.  In fact I was thinking about writing to the Kennebec Journal and talking about a lot of information that Betty Adams gave that was incorrect.  I wrote the letter, typed it up and everything and I just haven’t sent it out.  To be honest, I”m a little nervous, every time they put me in the papers or on the news I feel like shit, but at the same time I know that it is something that is needed.  I know, I know, you guys are probably like, “What are you talking about?”  WEll, let me explain.

Right now for all intents and purposes I am a political prisoner.  They, the State and everybody involved know that I should not be doing all this time.

[Editor’s note: Sentencing guidelines in Maine: Manslaughter 1–20 years, Felony Murder (killing someone while in the commission of a crime) 1-30 years, and for regular ol’ Murder, it’s Life without parole or no less than 25 years. Snax.]

They know that I should get re-sentenced at the very least and really should get a new trial, but as long as public opinion is on their side and there is nothing making them fix the situation, they won’t.  Look and what happened with my man Tony Sanbourn.  He did 27 years and they know that he didn’t do it.  It took his girl staying on them to make them admit that the witness had lied and look at the rest of the shit that is coming to light.  for me, I don’t have that right now; I don’t have a “someone.”.  They can trash me in the newspapers and on the news and it is what it is.  But, at the same time I know that I have people who believe in me out there and the more time that goes by and the more you see people getting way less time for murder and all that, people will start asking questions.  Like, why is Fortune swerving life sentences for accomplice liability?  Or, when the news reporter says that Leo admitted to the attacks but is doing fifty years.  anyways, though, yes, I am OK. Yes, I was hurt and upset when I heard about it.  Yes, I should have reached out to you guys and let you guys know what was going on , but sometimes it’s hard to explain what it is I’m going through when it is what I’ going through.  I still know that I am coming home but it is not going to be right now.  All I can do is to continue to grow and make the best of my time here.  That means concentrating on school and working every day to be the best me that I can be.

On that note, school is pretty much done for the semester.  Like I mentioned earlier, I just finished writing a sixteen page paper on genocide for my history class.  Genocide is a crazy subject; it’s hard to wrap my mind around wanting to annihilate and entire race, or group of people.  Yet, history is littered with genocides.  The two that I chose to wrote about were the ones in Armenia and Rwanda.  Did you guys know that in Rwanda almost a million people were killed in around 100 days?  That’s crazy and the US did nothing.  The movie “Hotel Rwanda” is base don what happened in 1994.  I have ti watch it again.  As for the Armenian genocide, while Roosevelt was the President, he said that the Armenian genocide was the worst crime of the whole war.

My other class was philosophy.  Yeah, that’s right – I’m now a philosopher.  Haha!  Nah, it was a really good class.  I learned just how much I don’t know.  The best thing I learned was the need to ask questions.  There cannot be a value on one asking questions in order to find ones answers for oneself, not settling for what we are being told.  So what happens when we run into questions that we cannot answer,m or if we are in a situation where it looks or feels hopeless?  For me this is why Allah and hope are the most important things in my life.  Both my life and the history of the world are littered with mistakes and “no-win” situations, but this is only possible because we refuse to stay beaten and accept things the way they are.

Philosophy has taught me that I must continue to search for my answers yet understand that some questions cannot be answered, and a lot of situations are beyond my control.  That does not mean that I must curl up and give up.  With hope and faith I can and will not be broken by any circumstances that I face.  I have the tools to make any situation better and endure.  There is a reason why miracles are so special.  It’s because they are beyond human purview.  They are not meant to be understood or explained.  Yet are miracles possible without faith and hope?

In moments like this I think on the Serenity Prayer: “Lord, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”  This class has reinforce my faith and hope by making me realize how much I don’t know by extension how much humanity doesn’t know.  It is because of how small my world and life is that I have been reminded just how strong and powerful hope and faith is.

Alright, I’m about to wrap this up.  Know that  you  guys stay on my mind.  If you ever need to vent on paper, or need advice, or if any of you are even considering making a bad choice, please drop me a line first:

M.S.P.                                                                                                                                                          Daniel Fortune, #86753                                                                                                                           807 Cushing Road                                                                                                                                    Warren, Maine 04864-4600

Remember – I believe in y’all.

As I am,

Prince

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Daniel Fortune sits in Kennebec County Superior Court during his sentencing hearing in June 2010 in Augusta.

Posted Oct. 12, 2011, at 5:57 p.m.

LISBON, Maine — Daniel Fortune is the first person in Maine sentenced to life in prison for attacking people who did not succumb to their injuries.

He was convicted by a jury of maiming a Pittston father and daughter in a May 27, 2008, home invasion and machete attack considered to be one of the most heinous crimes in the state’s history.

[Editor’s note: Daniel’s co-conspiritor and foster-brother, Leo Hylton was  responsible for the actual machete attack; Daniel did not participate.  His foster-brother agreed to testify against Daniel for a better deal.  Daniel, the older participant, who had known his victims previously,  and who refused to “rat” was considered the leader, and for what ever reason has paid this price. – Snax]

The legal questions the court will consider include whether there was sufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that premeditation and extreme cruelty were proven on the aggravated attempted murder count. Justices also will review for the first time whether a judge can impose a life sentence when a victim did not die.

On June 24, 2010, Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy sentenced Fortune, now 23, of Augusta in Kennebec County Superior Court to two concurrent life sentences,  according to a previously published report. He was convicted by a jury on May 14, 2010, after a trial held at Somerset County Superior Court in Skowhegan.

[Editor’s note: actual murderers, in the State of Maine get off easier than that.  In Maine someone convicted of Manslaughter will serve from 1–20 years, for Felony Murder (killing someone while in the process of committing another crime) they’ll serve from 1-30 years and for plain old Murder, it’s Life without parole or no less than 25 years.  Daniel didn’t kill, or even attact anyone, and again, he was given two life sentences.  I guess there are different sentencing guidelines in Maine when black go after well-connected and monied white politicians. – Snax

Fortune’s roommate and foster brother Leo R. Hylton, now 21, participated in the machete attack that left William Guerrette Jr. and Nicole Guerrette, then 10, close to death and permanently injured.

The attack on the Guerrette family came six months after Fortune stole a safe from the Guerrette home containing $111,000 worth of property, including $30,000 in cash, according to previously published reports. Fortune and Hylton, according to briefs filed in the appeal, went to the home armed with a machete and a long knife to keep William Guerrette from testifying against Fortune.

[Another Editor’s note: Fortune went to the Guerette’s home to collect drug money owed to Leo Hylton, not to try and silence anybody. – Snax]

Both men were charged with aggravated attempted murder, attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault, robbery, burglary and conspiracy to commit robbery. Hylton, who testified against Fortune, pleaded guilty to all but the aggravated attempted murder charge.

Hylton was sentenced by Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills on Feb. 26, 2010, in Kennebec County Superior Court to 90 years in prison with all but 50 suspended. [Editor’s note: pretty sweet deal, Leo. – Snax.]

Fortune’s attorney Arnold Clark of Waterville said Wednesday that he expects the justices will ask quite a few questions about the life sentences imposed.

“Just recently there have been sentencings in a couple of double homicide cases in Maine where life sentences were not imposed,” said Clark, who was not Fortune’s trial attorney. “In this case, nobody died. That’s a big difference legally. Of course, there is continuing trauma that goes along with surviving but that’s a different thing than murder in the eyes of the law.”

 

 

Clark argued in his brief that Murphy gave “insufficient weight” to Fortune’s age, which judges are obligated to take into consideration when fashioning a sentence. Fortune was 22 when he was sentenced and 20 at the time of offense.

“Undoubtedly, the seriousness of the impact of a life sentence on an offender is inversely related to the age of the offender,” Clark wrote. “A life sentence is the ‘harshest penalty’ available in the State of Maine. The impact a life sentence imposes on a 22-year-old offender is significantly more serious than the impact of a life sentence imposed on a 62-year-old.”

Clark argued in his brief that Murphy should have imposed a period of imprisonment and a period of probation as her colleague did in Hylton’s case.

“The court’s failure to mitigate the maximum sentence downward to a term of years constitutes an abuse of discretion.”

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Political Prisoners

Welcome to the blog from inmates of Maine's jails and prisons.

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