Behind the Scenes of the Eric Newhouse story: sorting through the lies.
My involvement in Eric Newhouse’s story came about when he came to the prison to interview inmates for his story on alcoholism in Montana and how it led to being incarcerated at MSP. I heard about the interview just days before he showed up at the prison. At the time I had a job working for the chemical dependency department as a psychology tech aid for my then supervisor Bill Martin. I’d been taking on-line college courses at the University of Great Falls, studying psychology and sociology. Because my supervisor liked my overall attitude, he asked if I would be willing to participate in the interview. The prison apparently needed more money for its alcohol dependency department and at the time it made me feel like I was making a difference, especially since many of the inmates were more open to me than to the staff.
Before I could be interviewed I had to sign a release and I remember asking Eric if could get a copy of his book, “From the Cradle to the Grave,” when it was printed. He said that he would send my portion of the article for me to look over before it went to the printer. After the interview was over I was instructed to go to the RAC where my photo was taken. That was the last I heard from Eric Newhouse. It wasn’t until some inmates posted my portion of the story on the prison bulletin board that I learned what he had written about me. I felt heart-sick and disappointed at the outrageous misrepresentation of my story. It also concerned me that students would be reading this about me in the classes I was facilitating, compromising my influence with them. I wrote Eric a couple of times letting him know how disappointed I was at the misquotes and wrong information he had printed about me but I never heard from him or the newspaper.
While it is true that alcohol contributed to my state of mind in the commission of my crime, it certainly wasn’t the main cause. It is much more complex than that, as my story reveals. Sadly, Eric Newhouse decided to further the exploitation of my life by exaggerating some of what did happen, misquoting me in places, stating as facts outright lies, and misrepresenting other aspects of my crime. It is obvious that he did not consider my life valuable enough to research the truth. I can only assume he did this to build his own reputation at my expense, which I believe he will have to answer to someday to Someone Greater than me.
I will now expose the errors in this story to set the record straight:
1. Eric states as fact that I was married at the time. Nowhere would anyone find a marriage record if they bothered to check. I lived off and on with my children’s mother but we never married.
2. He states as fact that I brutally attempted to murder my victim by ‘slashing her throat‘. There was no malicious intent to harm my victim physically. While she was superficially cut on the side of her neck in the scuffle to get the knife away from her, it hardly constitutes ’slashing her throat’!
3. There was no rape in the commission of this crime, which hospital records certainly prove and which I have always maintained. The victim grossly exaggerated her statements about the crime, which the facts dispute. None of my statements were acknowledged.
4. I have no idea where the Tribune or Eric Newhouse got the idea that I was in the military. That was an outright lie. I was a member of the civil air patrol out of upstate New York for a couple of years but did not participate while living in Montana. I think they assumed that because I am black I was military affiliated with Malstrom Air Force base.
5. Another fabrication to enhance the article is that I was the meanest convict in the institution. Maybe he read my write-ups about fights with other inmates who were sadly mistaken in trying to victimize me when I first came to prison. A black man coming to an all white prison with an alleged rape conviction was an immediate target. This means that I had to defend myself to the fullest for the first few years.
6. I never told Eric I battered my wife. I was asked if I had ever gotten in trouble for assaulting anyone before. I told him that I had a misdemeanor domestic abuse charge once for shoving a former girl friend which resulted in community service. That is the only issue with that. I never battered any woman in my life – another deliberate misquote. He tied that misquote into the reason why I send money periodically to the battered women’s shelter in Butte, ignoring the real reason. A friend took his own life leaving a wife and kids and this shelter helped them out. I wanted to give back and do my part since I was never ordered to pay restitution. It also was a healing process for me in my sadness over the loss of my friend.
It is my hope that in my attempt to set the record straight by telling my side of the story, those who write stories about other’s lives will take the time to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help them God!
Hebrews 4:13 And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.
The Eric Newhouse article: The Lifeblood of Violent Crime