Every now and then I’ll hear something on the news that is so asinine that it makes me speechless, and that says a lot.
Don’t get me wrong, America is filled with intelligent people just as it is filled with dogmatic people too. You have folks who say and do things not to prove themselves correct, rather just to create a pretentious moment that’ll’ give them their fifteen minutes of fame. Just as there are people out there who simply ‘Tell it like it is’.
As a man who literally sits on Texas Death Row I am compelled to read everything I can get my hands on, be it different newspapers/newsletters, figuratively – tons of magazines and books. I also have an admiration for radio news, turning the dial every half hour on the hour scouring for updates on national and international events. I’ll admit I do not do so cause I am infatuated with celebrity or media news, rather I do so to stay informed and aware of all the ever-changing events that dictates ‘moments’ in history.
One such moment occurred the other day on the KPFT radio station. When an Attorney for Andre Thomas, was illustrating a new tactic by the Texas Attorney General that would attempt to go forward with the execution of his client. “The Attorney General is attempting to argue that my client, Mr Thomas is ‘Intellectual Insane; not mentally insane and therefore under Texas Law my client do not meet the criteria that would spare his life”
Intellectual Insane? “Damn!” I thought to myself. “That’s a new one. What’s the difference? I went to my massive volumes of dictionaries, three huge books – each over 2,200 pages of old and new definitions. I’ll admit, I’m not the brightest bulb in the bunch, but the smell of bullshit has only one smell and you’ll know it when you smell it. I’ve known of Andre Thomas, too which we nicknamed him Squirrel on the Row, since 2006. He was my neighbor a few times back then when we were allowed and able to share food and other items with a fellow inmate. I use to playfully, though very immaturely call him the rapper Slick Rick or Captain One-Eye; teasing him about his missing eye. He didn’t seem to mind my insensitive ignorance. So I assumed Squirell was a skinny kid with his right eye missing, pulled out by his own hands. Whenever I asked him why he did it he always retorted back to a biblical scripture, (Matthew 5v.29) “If your right eye causes you to sin, poke it out” to explain his actions. And I always blew his responses off, cause I know many people who misunderstand a biblical scripture and take it literally- not figuratively. Some folks go to the extremes, and he was one of them.
For the most part he was a quiet, thou seemingly hyperactive guy. More kid-like than man-like. Every now and then he’d shout out some nonsense that no one around him could decipher. It didn’t raise any of my alarm senses because more than half of Texas Death Row inmates yell out insanely or say something that is borderline Chinese lingo than elucidate. You just blow it off. Put your radio’s headphones on and mind your business. The nature of the Beast is that we are held within solitary confinement and such a state gets to us all, including moi; and makes us all a lil crazy at times.
In hindsight; there are times when you ‘see’ someone act-out that goes beyond the emotional rubber band of loneliness or remorse. Sometimes you just know that this person has some screws missing in his brain. That day for me came in 2008 when Squirrel came to the day-room to recreate (a cage that is a lil bigger than the cages that keeps each inmate separated where all you can do is walk around in circles for exercise, Or engage in a shouting conversation just so another inmate can hear you clearly) He was pacing around in top speed,. His head was slightly lowered. He was in his own zone. A female correction officer must have noticed the oddity within his behavior and she asked him if he was okay. He went on to tell her he could play the (air) guitar well “Do you want to see?” he asked her.
Not sure as to what she was thinking or wasn’t thinking, She wanted to be amused and she knew a ‘crazy mofo’ would provide entertainment”sure Thomas play the guitar” she encouraged with a snide chuckle. He ran and jumped into the top of the Steele table that sat in the middle of the day room, then burst out a yell and a dance move that sharply resembled the move Michael Jackson, did in his ‘BAD’ video. Then he began to play his air guitar’, which was more yelling and screaming obscenities than a instrumental beat. He screamed some vexatious lyrics about a lost love that left him but still loved him.
Then the prison suffered a power outage., The inmates around began beating on their cell doors and the more they did, the more louder Squirrel performed. His body motion revealed that he actually thought he was in a real concert. That the beating on the doors by inmates was actually a livid rock crowd impressed”, with his performance. The female officer playfully took out her flash light and shined it on Squirrel. He must have felt that it was his time to shine, because what he did next was non decorous. He stripped down until he was butt naked, still playing his air guitar while singing. Guys started cussing him out feeling disrespected by his antics. The female officer tried to get his attention, demanding he get dressed but he was neither here nor there any more. He was gone.
A few minutes later power was restored and the lights were back on. Squirrel jumped down from the table. He seemed discombulated. As to why he was nude. He coyishly put his clothes back on then began walking in circles with his head down the say he was before his performance began as nothing had ever happened.
Many psychiatrists (even those with half of a brain is better than a unlicensed T.D.C.J psyche – docs we have here on Polunsky) use studies and even science to determine why people do what they do. For the mentally insane there is no clue just more paper word to be filed and more theories to observe. However most will tell you that there comes a time whenever a mental patient does not get the proper treatment, do ‘Cross the Rubican’ (the point of no return). I can’t help but wonder If that day Squirrel did his best Non Jovi imitation, of that day he regressed for good.
A month later I went to the dungeon because I was a Bad boy. I was moved away from Squirrel who had grown into a state of silence, where he stopped talking and isolated himself that much more, I didn’t know of this at the time but Squirrel began cutting on himself with sharp objects.
Later that year, December of 2008 every inmate (well the ones who are sane enough to comprehend) on Texas Death Row was shocked to find out that Squirrel pulled his remaining left eye out and ate it in front of the officer who just so happened to walk by his cell, devouring his eye as if it was imported shushi. The officer would soon quit and seeked psychiatric help after witnessing an insane act that she’ll never forget..
Back then I did not know anything about Andre Thomas ‘legal case. I didn’t know where he was from. I knew little about him except that he never received any visits and he walked around soul less at times. He didn’t have much anything. So imagine my disbelief when I later found out that he killed his ex wife, two children and attempted to kill himself. My disbelief should come to no surprise as the biggest misconception there is is that all Death Row inmates get along and like each other, we dont. We are a society like all others and we are a society that engages in racial segregation, classism and prejudical division. Meaning Baby killers are treated more harsher than any other. However, there is room for logical, even psychological evaluation of all tragic acts. This is where I have grown. I try to see things from both sides before forming a opinion. As tragic and heart wrenching as the details of Squirrels case, I did learn more about who he was, where he was from and how in the hell his beautiful ex wife and angelic innocent children meet the level of brutality that no one should ever fall victim to. My research lead me to a small town in Texas called Sherman. When he was taught and raised by his mother and grandmother; both were medically diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenics.
By the time he was ten he began hearing voices in his head. When he asked his mother about those voices he was told he needed to be beaten to release the demons inside of him. Other times his mother encouraged him to talk back to those voices. Now just think about that previous scenario for a second…
A child is told to entertain voices in his head, as if they were real live people. A child’s mind is so malleable and fragile that as a young age adults can literally dictate who or what their child will be.
At age 12 he attempted suicide and failed. By thirteen he tried to saw off his arm with a butcher knife. Somehow there goes that biblical scripture again. Matthew chap 5 v 29-30. At the tender age of fourteen he began having sex with his ex wife, Laura Boren Thomas, who was his fourteen year old girfriend at the time. They became parents by the time they were fifteen. They had a baby boy, Andre Jr. Sex is emotionally complicated for adults, so imagine the confusion they had to have gone through. From all accounts Laura, though a child still, was the best thing that ever happened to Squirrel. But not even she could stop the voices in his head that kept encouraging him to do insane things. One such tragic and insane event took place 2003 where Laura, Andre Jr and Leyha was viciously murdered by the man who swore to love them…Squirrel.
Two landmark cases that the United States Supreme court ruled on was Ford v Wainwright when it was decided that states could not execute the mentally insane. In Panetti v Quarterman the same court made it clear what mentally insane means” A defendant must grasp that it is retribution for the crime he/she committed”.
Most recently, Texas Criminal Courts of Appeals judge, Cathy Cochran conceded in her opinion that Andre Thomas is, “Clearly ‘crazy, but ‘sane’ under Texas Law”
Do you all see the manipulative word play? See the letter of the law says you must be mentally insane to be spared execution, but crazy? The thought is “we all (society as a whole) are crazy” So being crazy isn’t judicially excusable.
Chief psychiatrist, Dr Joseph Black, who testified for the prosecution said that Andre Thomas diagnosis was created by alcohol/drug abuse. The only problem to this, if true at all, is that Squirrel was 10 years old when he first began hearing voices, which was way before he habit towards alcohol and a lil weed began, and when he pulled out his left eye and ate it, he was on Death Row for four years or so of sobriety and had no access to any alcohol nor drugs, so how would any bias state psychiatrist explain that? By saying that Andre Thomas is ‘intellectual Insane” Which means, so I came to find out, that he was manipulating his symptoms to created a judicial argument that he is mentally insane, that he is doing this to avoid death by execution. Again some folks just say things to be heard, no matter how stupid they sound.
I have a hard time believing that Squirrel is playing the system just to avoid being executed/murdered. When the reality is, that night he killed his family he stabbed himself in the heart too. The emergency personnel at the hospital saved his life then. In fact that was his second time he came close to fulfilling his suicide attempt, Trust me, Squirrel isn’t manipulating no one to avoid death when he spent his whole life running into death’s path. And I don’t care about a person’s high IQ or level of social or environmental intelligence, cause there are times in ones life when they loose something, be it their sense of humanity, their soul, or their sanity and they can never get it back. Andre Thomas was never lost because he never had a chance to be found, he may just as well be the most mentally ill person of this generation cause anyone who pulls his eye out, eats it with all of its ghastly taste and declares “It taste like chicken” is no doubt a crazy and mentally ill muther fucker! Plain and simple. And it don’t take intelligent person to conclude this.
Should Squirrel be free? NO! Should he be granted his wish to die, that he has been trying to fulfil for years? By Texas law and by the United States Supreme Courts order he should be spared and sent to live the rest of his life in a psychiatric hospital and treated. It’s the same understandings of the law that spared Andre Yates., James Holmes and other mass murderers, that claimed to be medically insane, and none of these other psychos ever ate any part of their body parts.
The reality is Andre Thomas aka Squirrel is the poster child of severe mental illness, and is simply plain crazy, and unintellectual insane.
Written by Charles Chucky Mamou March 2013