Journey into Darkness - by Brian Glick
(Jan. 1, 2019 ) Having spent the last 14 years in the dark underside of the otherwise glamorous Sunshine State, I have learned not to take anything for granted, and to be truly grateful for each breath I enjoy. So it is with the humblest of hearts that I now recount the events that allowed a struggling American youth to fall tragically through the cracks of a broken system of "justice".
(Jan. 1, 2005) This New Year's seemed like a great start of a new beginning. I had recently turned 22 years old and I'd been working at Burger King for over 2 years, but my bills were paid and I had enough money saved up to finally get my own car. I met a girl from Clearwater Beach who had the prettiest brown eyes I'd ever seen, and we were planning to spend the day together on her next day off from the 7-11 she worked at.
(Jan. 2, 2005 - after midnight) The night seemed exceptionally quiet after the heavy partying that had gone on only a day before. I sat in the living room of the house I lived at with my two roommates, Chris and Rob, as we watched movies on the television. A short while later, my musings of the future were interrupted by an uninvited visitor banging on the front door. It was now after 3 a.m., and the appearance of strangers at that hour had us all spooked. I opened the door to find two drunken men trying to come inside. I recognized one of them, and my roommate Chris told me he knew them both, but he did not want them inside the house. I asked them to leave and closed the door.
Chris's girlfriend Pheobe was there also, and she seemed especially frightened. We were all quiet for a long moment, when Pheobe gave a startled cry and pointed at the side window, "It's them!"
I ran to the door and looked outside, to see the two men coming around from the side of our house. Before I could realize what was happening, both of them bulled there way inside, and I was suddenly struck in the face by the man I had never before met. I was knocked to the ground, where he continued to rain blow after blow to my face. Once he finished his assault, my roommates tried to placate their drunken associates, and invited them in to play cards in order to calm the situation.
Not only did my roommates not help me when I was attacked, now they were inviting these men in to my home. I felt angry, and also betrayed by men I had thought were my friends. Pheobe was still visibly shaken, and when the dust settled, she got up and headed for the door, saying she was going home. I instantly got up and asked her to give me a ride out of there, as I also no longer felt safe in my own home. As we walked out, my assailant's partner told me they could "take this to gunplay".
After driving some distance, Pheobe asked me where I wanted her to drop me off at. At that point, I realized that my wallet was sitting on top of my dresser, along with all the cash I'd saved to look for a car. I was beyond frustrated, furious at myself as much as at everyone else, and I decided at that point that I was going to go back and get my stuff.
I armed myself with a pistol and was driven back to the house by another associate. My heart was pounding harder than any time in my short adult life, and adrenaline made my hands tremble as I broke the threshold of my own front door. I was instantly assaulted by the unexpected silence I encountered. The house was empty, and I quickly grabbed my things. Just as I was approaching the front door to leave, the door swung open and a man came out of the darkness. My other roommate, Rob.
I was ready to explode with fear and anger, but I just asked him where everyone went. He only shrugged, and I told him I would be staying elsewhere for the night. I finally made it back to the car with my belongings, ready to be gone from that place. We took off into the night down the narrow one way brick roads that would lead us back to 4th street, when we encountered a small group of people standing in the road beside a parked car. I was struck by a sudden feeling of fear and foreboding, and I readied my pistol.
As the car approached the group, I started as I recognized the faces, "It's them!" I saw the man who had beaten me to the ground reach into his pocket as he glared at me, and I reacted instantly, firing my weapon at his center of mass, trying as best as I could to keep the barrel angled downwards. Without knowing if I'd hit or missed, I saw him crouch down with his glare still fixed on me. I kept the gun trained on him and yelled a warning, but the driver finally mashed the gas and the car jerked forward, and the gun went off again.
I learned later that I had hit with the first shot to his gut, and the second shot landed only a flesh wound, "in-and-out" of his back and side as he lunged away from the car. The gut shot would not have been too bad, except that the bullet pierced his aorta. Docters were able to do surgery, but the stitches did not hold, and he died in the hospital later that day. I was now wanted for Murder One.
Chris's girlfriend Phoebe was there also, and she seemed especially frightened. We were all quiet for a long moment, when Phoebe gave a startled cry and pointed at the side window, "It's them!" visibly shaken, and when the dust settled, she got up and headed for the door, saying she was going home. I instantly got up and asked her to give me a ride out of there, as I also no longer felt safe in my own home. As we walked out, my assailant's partner told me they could "take this to gunplay". hat the American justice system would protect me, and I waited anxiously for trial in the county jail.
(Jan. 1, 2006 ) With only days remaining before my long awaited day in court, I learned that Florida had passed a new "Stand Your Ground" law that offered immunity to criminal defendants who acted in self defense. I felt even better and much more secure with this new law in place, until my attorney came to visit before trial with a dower expression on his face. He explained that I would not receive the protections afforded by the new law because it was not retroactive. Under the old law, he said, I did not have the right to stand my ground, but instead I had a "duty to retreat". I then was told that if I was found guilty, the only two possible sentences were life in prison, or death.
The jury, however, agreed that the shooting was not premeditated, and I was convicted of the lesser included offense of second degree murder. Without any prior convictions, I began to think that my situation could improve if my family and friends in the community came forward with mitigating circumstances. My lawyer again spoke to me with the same dower expression, and now explained that the judge's ability to decide my sentence was curtailed by Florida's 10-20-life law, and that the prosecutor was demanding the mandatory life sentence that the law required. The gavel fell with a resounding boom that day, and the reality of life in prison began to sink into my very soul.
(Epilogue) It is 2019, and I am now 36 years old. The youngster who fell into the dark depths of Florida's justice system all those years ago has ceased to exist, replaced by the man I have become. I have learned to accept failure, defeat, and loss. But I have also gained a much deeper appreciation for the life I have been gifted with, and my Faith has never faltered. My will to continue fighting for freedom has only grown stronger, and I am still eager to see what the future holds. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Brian Glick is serving a natural life sentence for 2nd degree murder. He is certified by the Florida Dept. of Corrections as an inmate law clerk, and has been active in prison litigation for over ten years. He can be contacted via email at JPay.com using ID # R45761.