AP | Jun 13, 2013, 07.07 AM IST
“Set me free,” were his final words.
His case drew international attention because Van Poyck published three books and maintained a blog while on death row. He wrote recently about his pending execution.
Van Poyck and Frank Valdes ambushed a prison van outside a doctor’s office in a failed attempt to free James O’Brien. Prison guard Fred Griffis was fatally shot after he threw the van’s keys into the bushes to foil the escape.
Van Poyck and Valdes were captured following a car chase.
In his appeals, Van Poyck argued that Valdes fired the fatal shots. The Florida Supreme Court last week rejected Van Poyck’s latest appeal involving Valdes’ widow, who says her husband told her he was the shooter.
In 1999, Valdes was stomped to death in prison. Seven guards were charged with his death, but none were convicted.
Van Poyck wrote an autobiography, “A Checkered Past: A Memoir,” saying his purpose was not to elicit sympathy but “to put a human face on me and convicts in general.”
“He is deeply remorseful for the ending of Fred Griffis’ life,” his sister Lisa Van Poyck told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The family of Griffis has said in interviews that they were frustrated that news stories focused on Van Poyck, the crime and his writings — and not the victim.
Tomorrow Elmer will be executed and I’ll be next up to bat, with 15 days to live. A situation like this tends to make you reflect on the elusive nature of time itself, which some folks – physicists and metaphysicists alike – claim is an illusion anyway. Real or not it sure seems to be going someplace quickly!
This may be my last letter to reach you before you begin your journey down south to be by my side for my final days. These many visits I’ve recently received from those who love me have been a blessing for me. I’m acutely aware that some guys on death watch have absolutely nobody to help them bear their burden during their last days and hours on earth, not a soul willing to share some love. It’s a terrible thing to die all alone… I continue to be inundated with letters of support and love from around the world, many from kind-hearted strangers, and many similar blog posts which you’ve shared with me. Many are very moving, and all are deeply appreciated. I am humbled. While I’ve answered many I simply cannot respond to them all in my allotted time remaining. As my shortening days inexorably telescope down my focus turns ever inward as I wrestle with the timeless questions of the universe that have puzzled man since the dawn of consciousness here on Schoolhouse Earth.
I read in a recent newspaper article that the brother and sister of Fred Griffis, the victim in my case, are angry that I’m still alive and eager for my execution. These are understandable human feelings. I have a brother and sister myself and I cannot honestly say how I would deal with it if something happened to you or Jeff at the hands of another. I have thought of Fred many times over the years and grieved over his senseless death. I feel bad for Fred’s siblings though if seeing another human being die will truly give them pleasure. I suspect when I’m gone, if they search their hearts, they will grasp the emptiness of the closure promised by the revenge of capital punishment. There’s a lot of wisdom in the old saying “An eye for an eye soon makes the whole world blind.”
All is well with me here in the death house. I’ve been blessed with a strong body and a stout mind and spirit, more than sufficient to see me through this final passage. The deep love of others, freely given to me by those I’m honored to call my friends, helps ease the journey. The one thing I am absolutely certain of after 58 years on this rock is that LOVE is the foundation of the cosmos, the very essence of what we call God. This is the one lesson we all must learn, and will learn in due time, and which gives me my peace.
Light & Love,