Letters From Death Row: Greg Esparza, Ohio Inmate 179-450

We periodically run letters from death row inmates. Today we bring you a letter from Greg Esparza, who is awaiting execution on Ohio's death row.

Esparza was sentenced to death after being convicted of the 1983 murder of store clerk Melanie Gerschutz during the course of a robbery. In 2003, after rulings in Esparza's favor by lower courts regarding procedural problems with his case, the Supreme Court reinstated his death penalty. (Some background for clarity: Esparza replied to my original letter to him with a letter asking me to write a story establishing his innocence. I wrote back again asking him to answer general questions about his life on death row and his thoughts on justice in America. His reply is below.)

Letters From Death Row: Greg Esparza, Ohio Inmate 179-450

Dear Hamilton,

Got your letter. Lawyers, Tyler and a few said don't write ya, as you won't tell my story or do a story to help me. My view is a silent voice is never heard, and I rest on truth. No matter what I face or not, in end of life, what is one's purpose and where dose one choose to end up Heaven or Hell. For me my faith in Christ is deeper than any obsticle or fears I may face. Hamilton, I'm innocent, and if executed I be only one in state or nation executed who was never charged with Death Penalty case. 2 Federal courts agreed with me. The High Court said yes but it was harmless error. Under Ohio law one has to be charged principle offender or prior calculation and design. This was not on my indictment, in my case. 100+ documents was withheld. I'm here because a jailhouse snitch lied said I said I done it. He got 2500 out of jail early, and eye witness said it was short big neck

Letters From Death Row: Greg Esparza, Ohio Inmate 179-450

Heavyset (in court) but earlier statements (withheld) he said it was a white guy, 6 feet 180 mid 30's. I'm Latino, 5'7 then 20 200+. Eye witness also got into fight with guys he felt done it. Also (withheld). So that's crux of my case. On a date [of execution] as of yet no date. I'm at the end of my appeals. Do I have faith in courts. No, even if I got some relief, Ohio has already taken 31 years of my life. Life on death row has its ups and downs depending on what ya want. For me my days are spent trying to find a voice to shed light on my case. I don't waste time. I by choice spend 90+ percent in my cell. Where my TV, books and all I need are. I don't mix with a lot of fellas. There dreams don't match up to mine. For me it's a battle to gain my freedom. Death row in Ohio moved 4 times. We was at Lucasville prison, a riot took place and 11 died. Then we went to Mansfield prison. Then to Super Max Prison in Youngstown, Ohio. Then in 2012 here a old prison. Again for me it don't matter. As I can't except any of it ya can go on web get info on it all

Letters From Death Row: Greg Esparza, Ohio Inmate 179-450

My life is spent reading and I work on my case. I built my world on a cell. Many can't do as I do, as they need people and a way to deal with there reality. I go to gym twice a week, just to sprint for hour, pull ups, and come back. We can only go to gym twice a week. Outside twice a week. After than we are in (cell) or (range,) hanging out.

On my Past I grew up to a rough, poor Latino family. In out foster care, group homes, orphanage, and prison as a youth 4 times. Mom passed away when I was young. Dad shot and killed, 3 brothers killed. And a sister OD'd died. I have son. 32 or so and granddaughter. The visits mail are so rare. I sort of gave up on that. Been abused as a kid and a teen. So I had to learn to be tough at early age to survive. Been on Row for total 31 years. Got to death row at young age, mad and couldn't except this lie

Letters From Death Row: Greg Esparza, Ohio Inmate 179-450

so I spent first 10 years or so in hole/ solitary, got into Islam for 20 years. Left that a few years ago to give my life to Christ. On politics. Well. Didn't have much need for politics at early age. Now I feel I am more conservative in many ways. I do feel this country has lost a lot of its flavor. With laws that go against Bible. I feel media is weak. It panders to Obama or whoever it feels is in control. I feel the media is weak, and fear attacking [?] real issues. This country has a do as I say, not as I do mentality. It thinks it can control other nations. Yet it dose a lot of wrong, in name of liberty or justice. There's a book (The New Jim Crow) by Michelle Alexander. That tells it best. I feel death penalty is not about justice, but politics and revenge. No more no less, depending city or election year. Ya will face death penalty. I feel a deep study on Death Row has never been told. On who gets off. Who dies. Etc Etc. I wish and desire to get my story told

Letters From Death Row: Greg Esparza, Ohio Inmate 179-450

to youth. That prison/ crime dose not pay. That to liberate ya must educate. I wish I can tell woman to not allow a man to use em or abuse em, to run away from abuse. And not fear anyone. Kids need to know a life of prison is not fun or slick like the movies at times tells it. If ya can see movie (The Hurricane) about Rubin Carter a ex boxer, it sort of tells my story/ life in many ways. Hamilton I guess what I wish is conveyed is truth. Ya can go online or research my case or issues see for yourself. Call friend [name and number] or call one of my lawyers [name and number]. Tell her I said it was ok to do so. If I don't get someone who listen I die without my story told. I don't fear death. I come to realize, society as a whole don't give a shit, as long as it's not there love ones

Letters From Death Row: Greg Esparza, Ohio Inmate 179-450

For me, I see how the world has changed so much. Wars that are fought. Only (poor) seems to fight. Reasons why wars are lost now, they fight a politically correct war. I feel also Western world don't have a real sense on Islam. You can't tame evil, and evil only understands force. I feel so called educators don't ask real questions on Islam or other issues. I feel Gawker can be a way to start a media empire, if it goes to the common people, have a online media sector, all ghettos coast to coast. I feel ABC, CBS, NBC, etc is a waste of time. It's all a bunch of bullshit that cows to Obama or celebrities. I feel Gawker can get people, if it has no fear in telling truth to people.

Well Hamilton I will close for now. I pray ya print and get my story told. Ya can go online set up a e-mail account on www.IPay.com. It's a service we on Row or prison can do. It also dose Skype

Letters From Death Row: Greg Esparza, Ohio Inmate 179-450

So if ya want e-mail me and once ya do ya have a account. I can also place calls if ya wish. Hamilton, if ya can pass my # name onto as many people as ya can, also can ya write Italy papers or media. Request on my behalf Pope come see me eat lunch with me when he comes to America. Also to see poor, not White House or rich. So can ya for me get that out on air in Italy. Please.

Peace to you

Greg Esparza

Letters From Death Row: Greg Esparza, Ohio Inmate 179-450

PS, Death Row means a lot to different people. Some choose to change. Some are stuck on stupid. Some are indifferent. For me, tho I am in prison, facing death, my mind and heart is free. Fear is not who I am. What I want is some one who simply research (the facts.) If ya can find a person who may be interested in my plight, can you pass on all information to whom ever. Well again, I pray you do justice to my story. Ya can call Eric. He wrote a book, waiting to get publish on life on death row, whom I helped him on. If you want, he is a freelance writer. Ya can use to do a story on this area of USA. Peace to you and all, Greg Esparza

A-179-450

PS, Send me a copy of what ya print, again. Ya can e-mail me on www.IPay.com

Previously

You can find the full archives of our "Letters from Death Row" series here.

[Image by Jim Cooke]