Skip to comments.At 82, a just-released Graterford prisoner savors a taste of freedom
Posted on 01/26/2011 7:48:48 AM PST by South Hawthorne
Within minutes of his release from prison Tuesday, Louis Mickens-Thomas was sitting in Tommy Mo's Steak Shop, waiting for the meal he had dreamed about for years.
Four fried eggs and home fries.
"I got hung up on that a long time ago," said Mickens-Thomas, 82, who has spent more than half his life - 45 years - inside Graterford Prison. "Whenever I got out, I wanted a breakfast of four fried eggs and home-fried potatoes."
That he would one day get to eat that breakfast again wasn't always certain.
In fact, before Saturday - when a prison guard read in the newspaper that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ordered Mickens-Thomas' release, then told him the good news - he thought he might never get out.
"I wasn't expecting anything like this," he said, as if he still couldn't believe he was sitting in a Collegeville restaurant - where his two lawyers, David Rudovsky and Leonard Sosnov, and Jim McCloskey of Centurion Ministries, which works to exonerate the wrongly accused, had taken him - instead of the prison cafeteria.
"What can I say? I'm very fortunate," said the thin, healthy-looking octogenarian, dressed in red-corduroy pants, a gray sweater, and black Princeton fleece that McCloskey had given him that morning.
Mickens-Thomas, who had owned a shoe-repair shop in West Philadelphia, was convicted of the 1964 murder of Edith Connor, 12, largely on the testimony of a crime-lab worker who later was accused of having a long history of perjury and of faking her scientific credentials.
He has always maintained his innocence, and for the last 20 years, Centurion Ministries has worked to free him.
"He's completely innocent," a beaming McCloskey said Tuesday. "He had nothing to do with that crime. . . . We're thrilled and happy to have him here."
A twist in the case came in 1995 when Gov. Robert P. Casey Sr. commuted Mickens-Thomas' conviction, though he was never exonerated. The Pennsylvania Parole Board fought the commutation and refused to let him out until 2004, when a federal appeals court ordered his release.
Casey "didn't declare Lou officially innocent, but he had on his desk on his final day in office 24 life-sentence inmates recommended for commutation, and Lou was the only one he granted," said Sosnov, who has worked on the case for 11 years. "What distinguished Lou from the other people was real doubts about his guilt."
Mickens-Thomas was free for 15 months before he was returned to prison for a parole violation: He had been discharged from a sex-offender treatment program for making an intimidating remark to a therapist after admitting he kissed a woman at church who did not want him to.
"They said he had a pattern of high-risk behavior," said Sosnov, "and that's why he's been back in prison for seven years."
That pattern included the kiss, and fixing umbrellas that he would offer to women stranded in rainstorms.
He was initially ordered back to prison for nine months, but after serving the time, he was denied parole on the basis of his need for sex-offender treatment and of his refusal to admit guilt.
He had applied for parole ever year since 2006, but was rebuffed by the Parole Board.
In its recent 12-page ruling, a three-judge appellate panel cited "a combination of willful noncompliance, bad faith, and a sufficient inference of retaliation or vindictiveness on the part of the [Parole] Board."
"This guy has persisted and insisted on his innocence," said McCloskey. "They were always angry at him for never admitting he did it and showing remorse. That kept him in prison all these decades."
After his first release, Mickens-Thomas said, it seemed "as if they were looking for an opportunity to put me back."
Having to return to prison after a taste of freedom was "terrible," he said. "It was hard."
During his long confinement, Mickens-Thomas earned a degree from Villanova University and a barber's license. His most recent job, he said, was polishing brass kick plates at the bottom of doors.
He has three children, whom he hopes to see, and will be living with nephew Calvin Mickens and his wife in Tobyhanna, in the Poconos.
His last night in prison, he couldn't sleep. Then at 6:30 Tuesday morning, as he left his cell with all that he owned - a television and a small trunk with some personal items - the other inmates lined up as he walked past to say goodbye and wish him well. Even the guards and the prison major offered their congratulations.
Now, here he was outside, beneath a winter sky the color of steel prison bars. It felt unreal, he said, as if he was having an out-of-body experience, looking down on what was happening.
His plans now were uncertain. He would like to work with his nieces and nephews in their cosmetics business, he said, but that's up in the air.
Finally, the waitress put a steaming cup of coffee and a plate of eggs, bacon, and home fries in front of him. Don't they serve eggs in prison? someone asked. Not the way he likes them, they don't.
He scooped a forkful of potatoes, then dug into a runny egg and sloshed it all into his mouth.
"Mmm, boy. Wow," he said with a big smile. "You never know how good something like this is until you don't have it."
The guy was convicted of raping and murdering a 12 year old.
30 years later when they let him out, he threatens a social worker, sexually assaults a woman, and is cruising around in rain storms looking for vulnerable women.
And now, he's back again.
Thanks, you repugnant liberals. When he goes out next week and rapes and murders another 12 year old girl, you just feel all warm and cozy inside, picturing this animal shoveling his G.D. home fries and egg into his murderous mouth.
“his two lawyers, David Rudovsky and Leonard Sosnov, and Jim McCloskey of Centurion Ministries”
I think he needs to go live with these gentlemen.
I presume the government will provide his Viagra to insure he can continue his chosen lifestyle.
Shouldn't that be three lawyers?
The way I read it, Jim McCloskey is not a lawyer.
With that astonishing example in hand, I wouldn't assume anything about the safeness of rape convictions concerning minors from a long time back. And this guy goes back further than Amirault.
Probably correct. Just need more coffee........
According to this, he’s free.
'She never came back'
Thelma Tyler, 87, remembers the day the little girl next door disappeared. Edith Cooper's father would blow a whistle to call his children home. That Sunday in September, he blew and blew, to the point that Tyler's husband grew annoyed.
"She'd hear that whistle, she would come, but she didn't," Tyler recalled Friday. "They sent her to the Laundromat that morning, but she never came back."
The body was found two days later in an alley behind the block, apparently dumped there after the trash trucks came through. The city's forensic expert, Agnes Mallatratt, eventually linked dog hairs, fibers, shoe wax and other trace evidence at the scene to Thomas, who lived and worked three doors down.
A jury convicted Mickens-Thomas in 1966, but he won a new trial when Mallatratt's sham credentials were unveiled in an unrelated trial. The outcome was no better in 1969. Mallatratt was kept off the stand, but her boss vouched for her tests, saying he had supervised them.
"That can really be open to question, allowing him to testify about her work," said James C. McCloskey, executive director of Centurion Ministries, which has helped free 44 exonerated people from death row or life terms.The parole board insists Mickens-Thomas has shown a lifelong anger toward women.
As a teen in 1945, he was charged with rape. In 1959, he was charged with choking a pregnant woman into unconsciousness. He was also accused that year of attacking a 14-year-old girl.
The rape charge was reduced, and he was not convicted of the others.
"Your anger and resentment toward women was evident in your recent interview," the parole board said in 2003.
At least someone was willing give a little more info on the case and his situation
I agree with you.
Pedophiles are as close to being beyond redemption as it is possible for a human to be. They should never be let out, and the kind thing to do is put them down like a sheep-killin’ dog.
I don’t see that this guy’s post-prison behavior was indicative of child molestation. He’s been locked up in an ugly, negative environment for decades, gets out and is, shall we say, excited to see adult women. No one else would have gotten thrown back in for his actions. It was done because of his sex offender status. If the original charge was bogus — and indications are that it may have been — then locking him back up was bogus.
“Gerard Amirault was famously convicted of using clowns and robots to rape children during excursions in hot-air balloons.”
Thankfully I haven’t seen that theme in a Hollywood movie offering....yet.
I strongly believe in the death penalty for the penetration of any child below the age of fourteen by any person over the age of 21. While a few wrongly accused would die, they can be considered to have died for their country. The greater good is that nation would be free of the expense and threat of some of the worst scum of the earth.
The two lawyers are connected by “and”, therefore the third person clause connected by “and” to the original sentence indicates that he was not a lawyer, but another person not connected to them..............
We used to hang predators. Now we give them viagra and parole.
Yep, all the women I know just stop moving when their umbrella breaks. You see them all up and down the street in rainstorms, standing still as a statues, stranded, soaking wet, holding their broken umbrellas, with silly startled looks on their faces, not knowing what to do -- because they're women.
Business would be 100% better if he offered to help women stranded by broken heels. And it wouldn't be seasonal either.
Sheesh, I've never seen a woman stranded by a broken umbrella. Does indeed sound like some kind of kinky sexual fantasy.
I have no problem with hanging the guilty. For any sex offenders in my county, I’ll happily supply the rope and the tree.
We may have to agree to disagree, but in this case, there was no minor to be coached into testimony. She'd already been raped and murdered.
I think some who post on FR are seriously mentally disturbed and truly need help. Are you one of them?
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