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Kristin Cody's Fundraiser:

Free Richard Salem

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BENEFITING:

Kristin Cody

THE STORY:

Richard Salem is in prison, serving a 10.5-year sentence. He doesn't deserve this by any stretch of the imagination, let alone by any judicial standards.

Why should you care? Please take three minutes to read on.

On the night of March 4, 2006, Richard visited his ex-girlfriend's home to "say goodbye to his love." They had a loving relationship and an amicable breakup. Richard simply wanted some closure. Although they just had a conversation a few hours before at a local restaurant, when he rang his ex-girlfriend's doorbell she decided she'd rather call 911 than talk to Richard. She explained to the dispatcher that Richard was a really nice guy, and was just having a little trouble with the breakup. Three police officers arrived and approached Richard. He asked them to please tell him what was going on. When they moved closer, he froze in fear. When they grabbed him he resisted, and a struggle ensued. Richard was "Drive Stunned" with a Taser (this means the Taser's electrical contacts were applied directly to his body), and he was bashed in the head with an ammo magazine, shackled, and thrown into the back of a patrol car.

You might be thinking it's not wise to "resist" or "struggle with" police officers, and you'd be right. However, this "fight or flight" reaction was the result of a clinically diagnosed anxiety disorder Richard suffers, and was being treated for at the time of the incident and for several years prior. It's not an excuse, but it is a legitimate mitigating factor that should have been considered in his trial, and at his sentencing. It wasn't. And he was sentenced to 10.5 YEARS in state prison, where he now resides alongside murderers, rapists, and other dangerous repeat offenders.

Richard was not armed that night. He does not even own a weapon. He has NO criminal record. And no, he never abused his ex-girlfriend, or any other girlfriend. Richard has never harmed anyone. He is a kind, gentle soul who composed and performed music in the artistic community of Sedona, Arizona, and is well known and admired by its residents. Most people would agree that what happened to Richard is outrageous. Those who know him agree it is a travesty.

Richard was denied due process in several respects on his journey through the criminal justice system. His trial was the stuff of Hollywood courtroom dramas, complete with jury bias, ineffective counsel, and other injustices that you know are always redeemed at the end of the movie. Of course, the real world doesn't always work that way. Richard is now nearing his fourth year in prison, with approximately seven years to go. His behavioral record is stellar. Still, he has no chance of parole due to Arizona's sentencing laws.

A noble attorney has been working, pro bono, on Richard's appeal. We had high hopes for a favourable outcome but Richard has now exhausted all possible appeals at the state level, and despite having an excellent appellate attorney, the courts have not budged. The last judicial resort is for Richard to file a petition for a "writ of habeas corpus." This is an appeal in federal court, where a new set of judges reviews what happened at the state level, and determines whether the state's actions violate Richard's Constitutional rights. It is a complicated process. To do it properly, he must hire an attorney who specializes in habeas corpus appeals.

We have found a few excellent attorneys in northern AZ who specialize in this area, and are available to help Richard. They are expensive. That's why we're asking for your help.

Our goal is to raise $40,000 by the end of August (or sooner) to be used strictly for Richard's legal fees. There is a tight deadline to file this appeal, which is why this is urgent.

(Of course, if you donate and ultimately we're unable to raise enough, we will promptly return your money.)

If we don't take action right away, Richard will be looking at another 4 years before he is eligible for conditional early release. We would like to see him home safely within a year. The sooner we can raise funds and hire an expert attorney, the sooner we can move this process along.

We realize that times are tight for most people and only ask for what you can give. If you can do nothing else please sign the petition for clemency http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/freerichardsalem/. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. We appreciate everyone for their love and support! Now, let's bring RIchard Salem home!

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Kristin is working on selecting a charity so you can support Free Richard Salem.