"TV Station Fails to Overcome Deathrow Interview
Ban: Judge upheld Alabama prison official's prohibition against
media contacts with a female inmate, saying the policy was related
to security not content."
A judge last week denied a Montgomery, Ala.,
television station's request to interview a death-row inmate who
might become the first woman to die in Alabama's electric chair.
Montgomery County Circuit Judge Charles Price on April 24 declined
to remove a ban on media contact with such inmates.
WSFA/Channel 12 filed suit in Montgomery County
Court, asking Price to allow one of its reporters to speak to Lynda
Lyon Block, a woman scheduled to die on May 10 for the murder of a
police officer in 1993. The station claimed the First Amendment
forbids bans such as the one imposed by Prison Commissioner Mike
Haley. Station officials have not decided whether to appeal the
Block and her common-law husband, George Sibley,
were convicted on capital murder charges in the shooting death of
Roger Motley, a police office in Opelika, in a Wal-Mart parking lot.
Sibley also sits on death row but his execution date has not been
scheduled. Sibley and Block claimed self-defense in the shooting and
stated that police and courts do not have legal power over them.
In halting death-row interviews, Haley had issued
a memo saying he didn't wish "to publicize this heinous crime and in
so doing bring any recognition to Ms. Block." Montgomery County
Circuit Judge Charles Price heard arguments in the case on April 19
and agreed with prison officials that an interview with Block would
cause security problems. "There are a legion of cases that hold, as
this court does, that Commissioner Haley's decision to deny the
stated interview is not a denial of plaintiff's right of freedom of
speech," Price wrote in his decision. "This court finds that the
denial is based on security and control reasons and not content-related."
CCADP - George Sibley and Lynda
George Everette Sibley, Jr. - born and raised in
South Bend, Indiana, and moved to Orlando Florida in 1976. He spent
most of his life designing and converting cars and engines into drag
racers, and also worked on street racers and circle track cars. He
owned his own car repair shop in Orlando, but closed it when he
couldn't find proficient mechanics to repair cars to his standards.
He enjoys reading, sport shooting, auto cross competing, and
political activism on libertarian issues. In recent years he became
a well-respected legal researcher and drafter of constitutionally
correct revocation and sovereignty-status documents.
Lynda Cheryle Lyon - born and raised in Orlando,
Florida, but has traveled throughout America. She is a professional
writer of columns, op-ed pieces and short stories for several
publications. She is a sailor, scuba diver, cross-country
motorcyclist, sport shooter, fisherman and billiards champion. She
has been active in community affairs as President of Friends of the
Library, as investigator for the Humane Society, President of the
Young Womens organization in her church, and State Vice-Chair of the
Libertarian Party of Florida, where she and George met. George
became Lynda's partner in her publishing business and wrote a column
about gun ownership rights in her magazine "Liberatus." They married
in 1992 and are raising Lynda's 11 year-old son, Gordon.
BOUND TOGETHER IN LOVE - AND DEATH
This is the incredible story of George Sibley and
Lynda Lyon - the only husband and wife in America sentenced to die
by electrocution - to be murdered by the State of Alabama for a
crime they did not commit They shot and killed a bad cop - Alabama
said it was murder but George and Lynda said it was self defense.
The dead officer was the only other witness as to how and why the
shooting began. His personnel file, that showed a long history of
abuse to the public, was hidden from the jury. The verdict was
predictable - guilty of capital murder The sentence - death in the
Written by Lynda Lyon in her own words, this
poignant narrative tells how despite torture, unsanitary conditions,
and almost dying for lack of medical treatment - George and Lynda
have never lost their love and loyalty to each other, and have vowed
they will always be soulmates - even to the day they are strapped
into the electric chair to their deaths.
"From Heaven to Hell," written by Lynda Lyon.
It was fate - and a libertarian philosophy - that
brought George and me together at a libertarian Party meeting in
Orlando, Florida, 1991. George had been attending for a year when I
entered the meetings for the first time. I was immediately at home
with the small but active group of intellectual activists, and
George and I were among a smaller group that together attended
A year later, my marital problems came to a head
and my husband agreed to leave the house to me and our son and to
start divorce proceedings. At that time, needing to enlarge my
fledgling publishing business, I accepted an investment partnership
offer from George, who had seen my potential as a writer and
publisher, and who had also seen an entrepreneurship opportunity for
Our partnership, which had began as friendship,
soon blossomed into romance - a true libertarian relationship of two
highly intellectual, fiercely independent individualists who live
passionately. We soon realized that we were soulmates - totally
compatible in every way. We married in 1992 and our love and
friendship has grown continually.
George helped me launch a new magazine -
"Liberatus" -and we published hard-hitting articles about political
corruption. We pioneered a revocation process that eliminated
driver's licenses, school board surveillance on my home schooled
son, IRS demands, and state revenue notices. Every document we filed
was challenged by the various agencies, but after we sent them legal
proof of our right to revocate, they went away. We taught others
this process in papers, video, and seminars. We spoke on local talk
radio. The local, state and federal agencies began to notice the
influx of revocation documents from Florida.
Our hell began, not with the agencies, but with
Karl, my ex-husband, who had decided to sue me for possession of the
valuable house. He petitioned the judge to allow him back into my
house until the case was settled, a preposterous idea. George urged
me not to go to Karl's apartment to try to reason with him, knowing
Karl to be a violent- tempered man. But I was desperate to keep my
home and was prepared to offer him a deal, so George went with me.
Karl let us in to talk, but he became angry at my attempt to
bargain. In a rage, he lunged at me. George managed to pull him off,
but Karl had sustained a cut from a small knife I had pulled out and
held up as a warning just as he had grabbed me. The cut was not
large or deep, and when we offered to take him to a medical center,
he refused, though he did allow us to bandage the cut.
George and I were arrested in our home at 2:30 am
that same night. Karl had called the police and told them we had
broken in and attacked him. George and I had never been arrested
before, never been in any trouble other than traffic tickets. We
were in shock - George's face was pale and grim, and I felt faint
when the deputy began to read us our "rights". They put us both,
hand cuffed, in the back seat of a patrol car and we tried to
console each other. We agreed not to make any statements until we
got a lawyer. I told him tearfully how sorry I was that he got
pulled into this mess between Karl and me, and he assured me that it
was all right, that he didn't blame me. I would have gladly borne
the ordeal myself to spare him this. At the jail, as George was
taken away, he looked back at me one last time and said "I love you,
Lynda". Those words sustained me through the next five days of hell.
Because we were charged with "domestic violence",
George and I could not make bond without a hearing, and we had to
wait five days for that. I was placed in a cell with 30 other crying,
arguing, loud talking women. I chose a top bunk on the far end, and
sat and cried. I was terrified, because I had recently been
interviewed on the radio about money being skimmed from the jail
accounts, and the sheriff had ordered the radio station padlocked
I could not eat those five days. The meat stank,
and the vegetables and whipped potatoes were watery. I lived on
whatever cartons of milk I could trade for my trays. I was astounded
that the long timers would eagerly bid for my tray, and I managed to
get paper and pencil as well. Writing helped me keep sane. I was
able to converse with some of the women who recognized me as "fresh
meat" and protected me from the lesbians and bullies. I called my
mother to see how my son was doing, and she told me that Karl said
he would make sure I went to prison and that he didn't want his son.
When I began crying, the others stopped talking and looked at me. A
large, black woman came over and hugged me to her ample bosom, and I
felt a strange kinship to these thrown-away, forgotten wives,
The most humiliating experience was the strip
search. When ordered to strip for a body search, I froze. I had
never undressed for anyone except my husband and doctor. Silent
tears ran down my face as I disrobed, then turned to squat so they
could see if I had any drugs protruding from my rectum. When I
dressed, my face was red with shame. I felt violated, mentally raped.
I never did get over that.
George and I did get out on bond the 5th day. We
were sure that our ordeal was over and that we would soon prove our
innocence at trial. We were so naive.
It soon became evident that politics had entered
our case. Too late, we realized that our attorney had sold us out
for a job with the county. When our trial date arrived, our attorney
had done nothing - the witnesses had not been subpoenaed, nor
records we needed. George and I immediately fired him and asked the
judge for a continuance to prepare for trial. He said no - we either
plead "Nolo contendre" or go to trial that day; and if we were
convicted, we would be sent directly to prison for a mandatory
3-year term. Our attorney had an evil, satisfied look on his face
and I knew we had been set up. We were forced to sign "No contest."
We were still determined to fight it; we had a
month before sentencing. We filed papers exposing the corruption of
the judge and the denial of our right to a fair trial, sending
copies to the Governor, Lt. Governor, Chief Judge of Florida,
Attorney General, and the Sheriff. Friends and supporters flooded
these officials with faxes calling for an investigation, throwing
their offices in an uproar according to a secretary in the Chief
We didn't show up for sentencing; we'd been
tipped off that Judge Hauser was going to send us to prison anyway,
under "orders." We had three days to file a temporary restraining
order in federal court, but the man who had promised to draft the
document never did, and a capias was issued for our arrest.
A friend in the Sheriffs department, and a member
of my church, called me the evening of the third day, his voice
shaking. "Lynda, the warrants for you and George came up on computer.
I just heard there's a plan to raid your house. They know you have
guns - they're going to use a SWAT team." I was incredulous. "A SWAT
team!" His voice became softer, sadder. "You and George have made a
lot of important people angry. They're going to kill you and then
say you shot at them first. " He paused, to let this sink in, then
said, "I've put myself at great risk telling you this. Please, get
out of Florida. They mean business."
George had heard this on the speaker phone. His
face was as somber as mine. As a last, desperate attempt to stop
this insanity, I called to talk to Sheriff Beary. I had interviewed
him when he ran for election. But he wouldn't come to the phone.
George and I were not criminals and we did not
want to become fugitives. But my friend had made it clear we had no
choice. At the invitation of a friend in Georgia to stay with him,
we loaded our car and George, my son Gordon, and I left Florida that
We stayed in Georgia for three weeks, but we knew
we couldn't stay longer and endanger our friends. We decided to go
to Mobile, Alabama, a large port where strangers come and go
everyday, and figure out how to straighten out the Florida mess. We
stayed in a motel in Opelika, Alabama while waiting for our friend
to turn our remaining silver coin into cash, then we started out
October 4, 1993, for Mobile. On the way I spotted a drugstore with a
pay phone in front and suggested to George that we stop there so I
could get a vitamin supplement and call a friend in Orlando. After
Gordon and I came out of the store, he got back in the car to wait
while George and I made the call.
While I was on the phone, George stood by,
watching the traffic and people going by. He noticed one particular
woman in a red Blazer pull in beside our car. She got out and looked
at our car, a Mustang hatchback, with pillows stacked on top of all
our belongings. It later came out at trial that she had presumed
that we were transients, living out of our car, with a child
obviously not in school. Actually, I always carried my own pillows
when sleeping in motels. This woman's prejudicial presumption cost a
police officer his life, my son his mother, and George and me our
Because I had run out of change for the phone, my
call was cut off, so we left. But as we were leaving the shopping
center I remembered my friend had an 800 number and I then spotted a
phone in front of Wal-Mart. So George pulled the car into a parking
space and he and Gordon stayed in the car while I walked to the
store to call. Unknown to us, the woman saw a police officer coming
out of a nearby store. She approached him and told him that we were
living out of our car and she was concerned about the child. She
gave him a description of our car and left.
Roger Motley was the supply officer for the
Opelika Police Department and hadn't been on patrol for years. He
was irritated that he had to stop and check on this situation. He
drove his car up and down the aisles, and when he found our car, he
stopped behind it.
I had my back turned while talking on the phone
and didn't see the officer pull up. When George saw the officer in
the rear view mirror, he got out of the car, closed the door, and
waited to see what the officer wanted. The officer approached George
with the typical "I'm the guy with the badge and the gun" attitude.
In a curt voice he demanded to see George's driver' s license.
George told him he didn't have one, and was prepared to get our
legal exemption papers from the car. The officer then decided to
arrest George and told him to put his hands on the car. George
hesitated, knowing this was arrest, yet he had done nothing illegal.
Motley, thoroughly irritated now, reached for his gun. When George
saw him go for his gun, he reacted instinctively and drew his own
gun. When Motley saw George's gun, he said "Oh shit'." and, with his
hand still on his gun, turned and ran for cover behind the police
When I heard the popping noises, it took me a
couple of seconds to realize it was gunfire. I heard people yelling
and running to get out of the way. Quickly I turned and saw Motley
crouched beside his car, shooting at George. Fear gripped my
stomach. I cried, "Oh God, no!" and dropping the phone, began
running, ignoring the people scrambling for cover. I saw George
standing between the rear of our car and the right side of the
police car; he was holding his gun in his right hand, but his left
arm was hanging strangely. Motley didn't see me approach, and just
as I came to a stop I pulled my own gun and shot several times. He
turned to me in surprise, and as he did, one of my bullets struck
him in the chest and he fell backwards, almost losing his balance in
his crouched position. His gun was pointed at me and I prayed he
wouldn't shoot. Instead, he crawled into the car, and after grabbing
the radio microphone, he drove off.
I immediately ran to our car and got in. The
parking lot was quiet - everyone had sought shelter inside the
stores. I was shaken, yet incredibly calm. "What happened?" I asked.
George's face was extremely pale. "He tried to arrest me for not
having a driver's license." He shook his head in disbelief. "I was
going to show him our papers, but he didn't give me a chance - and
he went for his gun. " He looked at me, his eyes begging me to
believe him. "I couldn't just stand there and let him shoot me."
I did believe him. George is the most honest
person I know. He would not have placed himself or us in danger. He
took the law seriously. He was never the showoff gunslinger-type and
would walk away before being drawn into a fight.
I told him that I believed him, but that we had
just shot a cop and the whole police force would be gunning for us.
We had to get out of there fast. It was then I noticed his arm and
he raised it up to show me. With characteristic understatement, he
said simply "I've been hit." His arm had been pierced by a bullet.
Though blood was dribbling down his arm, it didn't obscure the hole.
I examined his arm and could see that the bullet passed through his
forearm and miraculously had not broken any bone or cut through a
tendon or artery. I had an advanced medical kit in the car and I
knew I could treat it later.
George maneuvered our car deftly through the
streets, trying to get us out of the area quickly while not
attracting attention. I tried to calm Gordon, who was crying and
shaking, and I looked at the map for the best route out. But we were
unfamiliar with the area and kept running into heavy traffic. Then
we picked up an unmarked police car and knew they were closing in on
us. We were going over 100 mph when we suddenly came to a crossroad.
We could only turn right or left. "Which way?" he asked. I was
clueless - I had lost track of where we were. He took a guess and
We had gone only 1/4 mile down the country road
when we came up on a rise - and then we saw the roadblock, at least
20 cars. George slowed down, then pulled the car over to the side of
the road and cut the engine. He sat in calm resignation, then looked
over at me. I said quietly, "I guess this is it, isn't it?" He
nodded, then we both looked out at the policemen, detectives,
deputies -coming at us from all directions, guns drawn, shouting
"Get out of the car and put your hands up!"
It was an incredible, surrealistic scene, as
though I was experiencing a virtual reality game where I could feel
the action and motion, but then the game would end and I would go
back to living my real life again. My son's sobs brought me abruptly
back to reality. I rolled down my window and put out my raised hand.
"Stop!" I shouted. "I have a child in the car!" I could plainly see
the closest officer's face turn pale,and he quickly spoke into the
radio on his shoulder. "There's a child in the car!" he shouted. The
Opelika police never told these Auburn police this. The word was
quickly passed and then he said "Okay, ma'am, we won't shoot. You
can let the child go."
I talked to Gordon, calmed him down, then I
opened the door and let him out, told him to be a good boy and that
they would take care of him, and pointed him toward a plain-clothes
policeman. I gave him a last kiss, holding his handsome nine year-old
face in my hand, to get a last picture in my mind of the child I may
never see again. I watched him walk quickly away to the beckoning
officer and I felt as though my heart would break. I had planned his
conception, had nurtured him through sickness, homeschooled him. No
one could have possibly loved a child as much as I loved mine, and
he was walking out of my life only half-grown, unfinished.
As soon as Gordon was taken away, the police then
shouted at us to surrender. I turned to George and asked "What do
you want to do?" He had lost a lot of blood and was pale and tired.
"I don't know." I made a decision for us. I told the officer, "We
are not surrendering. You will have to kill us first."
For four hours George and I sat in the car and
talked. I held my gun where the officers could see that we were not
going to surrender peacefully. The officer continued to talk to me
to get information about us. George and I spent the time talking
about the shooting, as he explained to me what happened. We
discussed our plans for our future together, all gone. We discussed
the probability that if the officer died, we'd be charged with
capital murder and executed. If we decided to fight in court, it
could take years. We knew we did not want to spend the rest of our
lives in prison for an act of self-defense. We knew that it would be
our word against a cops' word, and we had already seen how corrupt
the justice system is. We then talked about suicide.
My religious belief is that suicide is wrong, but
now I was faced with the total hopelessness of our situation. I told
George that the only regret I had in all this is that I would not be
able to raise my son. We discussed all our options.
As dusk settled in, we saw the SWAT team position
themselves around us. The regular police had pulled back an hour
earlier. A negotiator got on the police car hailer and tried to talk
us into surrendering. We said no, that if they tried to come after
us we would shoot ourselves. He then tried to bargain with us. What
did we want? I printed my answers on notebook paper with a marker
and George held it out his window for them to read - to talk to my
son, to talk to the press, and to talk to clergy of my religion. He
agreed to all these things (he lied - they did none of them), but we
had to surrender first.
Finally, the showdown came. The SWAT teams had us
surrounded. We were told that if we did not surrender in 5 minutes,
they would lob tear gas through the windows of the car and take us
anyway. George and I had been sitting with our guns in hand. We had
planned to shoot ourselves in the head at the same time. George
looked at me with such sorrow and asked, "Would you mind if I stayed
in the car and shot myself while you surrender? At least you could
have some decision in Gordon's future."
I looked up at him with surprise, my eyes filling
with tears at the thought that this honest, loving, gentle man who
had waited over 40 years to find the right woman and found me,
spending all those years in patient waiting, should now die alone
with a bullet to his head. 'No," I said firmly, "I'm not going
anywhere without you. Either we surrender together or we die
together. I'll follow you, George - Whatever you want, I'm leaving
it up to you." A totally surprised expression came to his direct,
penetrating gaze. Until that very moment, he had not realized the
depth of my love for him, that I would rather stay with him, even in
death, and that I would trustingly place my life in his hands. "If
we surrender, it will be years before this is resolved." "I know," I
said, "but at least we'd be fighting this together."
He then took my left hand in his right, stained
with blood where he had tried to staunch the wound, and raised my
hand to his lips. "No," he said with renewed determination. "We will
surrender so we can fight this. We have to do whatever we can to see
that Gordon is taken care of, and to prove our innocence - if only
for his sake." For the first time in months, hope was in his voice "We
will fight this to the end, and it they still execute us, we'll die
knowing we fought for what was right." He then gave a tired smile. "Yes,"
I said with respect and admiration for my husband.
With a look of tenderness I'll always remember,
he leaned forward and kissed me, a gentle, parting kiss, perhaps the
last we would ever share. Then, at a nod from him, we laid down our
guns and exited the car with our hands up.
George and I were placed in solitary confinement
in the Lee County jail in Opelika. The jail is small - the men's
section holds 100 men, the women's section - 25. I was taken to a 4-cell
unit in which I was the sole occupant. I was exhausted and numb - I
had been fingerprinted, photographed, strip-searched and questioned.
I had not eaten since breakfast and it was after 9:00 pm.
The cell block I was in was at the far end of the
jail and hadn't been used for almost a year. After the last
occupants had left, it had not been cleaned. One of the female
officers pointed out a cell and told me to put my things there, then
But five minutes later they came back and took everything
except the mattress, soap, toothpaste, and toilet paper. I stood
there, dumbfounded. "Why are you doing this?" I asked. "Orders," was
the curt reply and they locked me in the tiny cell.
George was treated similarly, locked in a cell by
himself, but under the watchful eye of a surveillance camera. The
bright fluorescent lights in our cells were not turned off for 10
days, and it was almost impossible to sleep.
temperature in the jail was 68 -degrees, and without, any covering,
not even a sheet, I developed hypothermia, at times awakened by
uncontrollable shivering. I would pace the cell to keep warm but I
was too exhausted to pace for long. George had no shoes or socks -
they had taken those from him- and he too, was suffering from the
By the 6th day of constant cold I awoke to intense shivering,
I was cold - inside as well as out; I was numb and could hardly move.
With great difficulty I crawled to the bars of the cell and tried to
raise myself, but couldn't.
About 30 minutes later they found me on
the cold cement floor, one hand grasping the bars, and they decided
to give me a blanket. I wrapped myself in it and slept for 18 hours
before my body temperature became normal.
I had to use my only pair of panties to wash
myself and hung them to dry overnight to wear each day. They
wouldn't let us shower, nor would they give us clean clothes. We
asked repeatedly to use the phone to call our families so they could
get lawyers for us, but they denied us that, too.
The constant cold
and bright light, the isolation, the starchy food - they all began
to take its toll - as planned. We were both taken before Judge
Harper for the initial appearance in handcuffs attached to
belly-chains, and shackles on our bare ankles.
One cannot imagine the pain of trying to walk
with shackles on your ankles, on bare skin. The proper procedure is
to place them on the pants legs, but the jailers deliberately put
them on our skin to inflict pain. George and I bore the pain without
comment - we were not going to let them gain satisfaction from their
torture. I still have scars on my ankles where the shackles dug deep
into my skin.
At both court appearances the media was there in
swarms. At the first appearance, Judge Harper - the star -
imperiously went through the routine of asking if we understood the
charge - capital murder - and that the penalty was death or life
without parole. Did we have lawyers or did we want the state to
provide them? We both looked at him in disbelief.
They all knew we
had been denied even one phone call - how could we have retained
lawyers? If George and I were not so exhausted and disheartened, we
would have insisted on handling our own case. But they would not let
us talk and discuss this.
The prosecutor had quickly figured out
from looking through my files and our legal papers that were in the
car that we were well-educated, and politically and legally astute.
He did not want us to handle our own case, thus the psychological
torture to force us to take their lawyers.
After we were appointed lawyers, suddenly
everything changed. They let us shower and use the phone. We
received all our bedding and basic toiletries. We began to receive
mail. Because George and I were so well known, the news of the
shooting went all around the country, and calls and faxes to the
Sheriff had come in asking about us.
My mother had called and begged
the Sheriff to let her talk to me but he curtly told her I was going
to die for killing a cop and hung up on her. A friend had traveled
all the way from Orlando to see what he could do for us and they
refused him. Letters began pouring in, but we didn't get them. The
prosecutor, judge and the Sheriff conspired to cut us off from all
contact with support.
Despite the cruelties I suffered, none was worse
than what they did to George. After they let us receive mail, a
friend sent us stationary, pens and stamps. It was a long shot but l
asked if George and I could exchange letters. Surprisingly, they
said yes. (We found out later that the prosecutor had the jailers
copy our letters for information.)
When George wrote, he told me
that the wound in his arm had been treated only once - at the
hospital right after we surrendered. Over a week had gone by and
they had not given him any antibiotics. Once, just before he was to
appear in court, an officer put peroxide in his wound and changed
his bandage. George wrote me that he could feel itching and could
smell infection setting in.
As angry as I was of their treatment of me, I was
more angry at their deliberate indifference to his obvious medical
condition. We had just been given permission to use the phone and I
called a friend and told him what they were doing to George.
He immediately put out an urgent fax message to our supporters
nationwide and we were told that the next day the Sheriff's office
was swamped with faxes and phone calls demanding that George be
properly treated immediately. Pat Sutton, a retired deputy, quoted
law and Supreme Court decisions to the Sheriff about the proper
treatment of prisoners.
Early the next morning George was taken to a
doctor who treated his wound and prescribed antibiotics. An officer
later told George they had been given a prescription for antibiotics
at the hospital, but the Sheriff would not authorize it to be filled.
From the moment we were introduced to our
court-appointed lawyers, George and I fought to have them recognize
that we were as knowledgeable of the Constitution and the law as
they. We soon realized that we were more knowledgeable then they;
all they knew was what they were spoon-fed at law school.
nothing about the common-law rights of self-defense, of the
significance of the 14th Amendment citizenship, of the right to
resist unlawful arrest. They refused to combine our cases, kept
trying to put me against George so I would get a lighter sentence,
kept repeating the phrase "We're doing this for appeal." We soon
realized that they were not considering our innocence, but only the
degree of our "guilt."
They didn't expect acquittal, weren't working
for it at all, and only wanted to work toward saving us from the
George and I refused to submit to their plans -
George' s lead attorney tried to quit; mine left town and was
replaced. George' s attorneys did not prepare for trial. They had
not sent the witness subpoenas out in time, so few came.
not examined the forensic reports or questioned potential witnesses
about the officer's violent nature. At trial, the prosecutor
purposely twisted the facts in his closing statement to make it
appear that it was George's bullet - not mine - that killed the
officer. When George and I insisted that I testify to show that it
wasn't George's bullet, George's attorney made the loudest protest.
My attorney begged me not to testify. "George is already lost. Don't
throw away your chance for life. Don't be a hero." I looked him
straight in the eye. "I'm not doing this to be a hero. I'm doing it
because it's the right thing to do."
I had prayed that I would be calm while I was on
the stand, and I was. This, however, was interpreted by the media
and the jury as "cold-blooded lack of remorse." During his trial,
George was pale and tired, and extremely thin. And he knew he was
lost. It was inevitable that he would be convicted and sentenced to
When the jury recommended death for George, the
jailers expected me to cry and wail. Because I showed no reaction
and went about my normal routine, keeping my grief to myself, some
of the jailers turned against me, convinced I was cold and heartless
about George's plight.
It was only after George had been taken away
to prison three weeks later that I broke down. Clutching his last
letter, written hurriedly just before they took him away, I cried
quietly for hours. Half of me had been torn away and now I couldn't
even hope for a glimpse of him in court, and receive his daily
letters of love and encouragement. The reality of our situation only
hit me then, when they took George away to Death Row.
I now had to concentrate on my own trial, which
was getting nowhere. My lawyers and I argued at every meeting
because they refused to even consider the Constitutional issues I
knew were crucial to my case.
One night I perpended the realization
that unless these issues were raised at trial, I could not raise
them in appeal - according to the ABA Rules of Court - and I would
have no basis for a demand of my release. I had no choice but to
fire these useless attorneys and conduct my own trial.
The next morning, at a closed-chamber session
between the judge, my lawyers and me, I presented the lawyers their
dismissals, and copies to the judge. Judge Harper only raised his
eyebrows in surprise and ordered that the lawyers and I discuss this
privately. When we were alone, the lead attorney exploded in anger.
"You arrogant fool. Why do you insist on throwing your life away! Do
you have a death wish?"
I was calm and even smiled a little. "You
are not interested in proving me innocent - only of getting me a
lighter sentence. I want acquittal or nothing. I may lose anyway,
but at least it will be done my way." He stormed out angrily, and
the other attorney shook his head in sympathy. "I know why you're
doing this, but you're making a big mistake. You're risking your
life." I nodded. "I know, but it is my life, isn't it?"
To prepare for trial in the 3 months I had, I
read the Rules of Procedure and Rules of Evidence. I filed several
pre-trial documents, unusual documents that I convinced the judge
were to be introduced as evidence at trial. Fortunately, the judge
was too ignorant of the documents and of Constitutional law to
realize what I filed.
Though he and the prosecutors scoffed at my
pretrial documents challenging his jurisdiction, the
Constitutionality of the statute I was charged under, and the
validity of the indictment based on the original 13th Amendment; I
knew that if I did lose, I still could raise this issue on appeal
because it had been raised at trial.
The trial was a play, scripted by the judge, the
prosecutor, and the restrictive ABA Rules of Procedure. In both our
cases, Judge Harper refused to release the officer' s personnel
record, which showed a long pattern of abuse to the public, and I
was working against a one-sided portrayal of the officer as a "good
cop gunned down in cold blood."
I was able to perform all the
functions of trial in a calm, business-like manner, and even the
judge grudgingly admitted how well I was conducting my defense. But
under the restrictive rules of procedure in today's courts I had
little chance, and I knew it. All I could hope to do was maneuver
the trial to get as much information in my favor on record - for
When the jury came back with the guilty verdict I
was not surprised, but it hit me hard. No one can possibly imagine
being alone in a courtroom, feeling the eyes of everyone else upon
you waiting for your reaction to the news that they were going to
put you to death in a most horrible manner.
I forced myself to sit
perfectly still, emotionless, while realizing that the people of
Alabama wanted to kill me for choosing to defend my husband's life.
When it came time for the sentencing portion of
the trial, when I was supposed to convince the jury they should give
me life without parole instead of the death penalty, I waived my
time, telling everyone in that courtroom that I had presented
everything I had at trial. I was not going to beg for my life. When
I was awaiting their decision, I prayed that they would give me
death. If George and I were both on Death Row, we could join our
appeal and fight together.
When the jury recommended death, I rose
from the defense table with as much dignity as I could evoke and
walked through the silent courtroom and hallways back to my cell.
Some of the jailers were upset. One of the women in my cell broke
down and cried.
Execution by electric chair is gruesome. They
shave your head so they can attach the electrodes to bare skin. They
shove cotton up your rectum and put an adult diaper on you because
the charge of electricity through your body causes your bladder and
intestines to evacuate. They put a hood over your face because the
jolt of 20,000 volts causes your face to contort and your eyeballs
George and had agreed at the roadblock that we
would fight to the end, and if we still lose and are executed, we
will go back to our Creator knowing that we fought to the end, and
fought for the principle that it is better to have fought and lost
than to submit to those who would rob us of our unalienable right to
Heart to Heart
Below are portions of the daily letters George
and Lynda wrote while in the Lee County Jail, Alabama
"When you wrote that you did not blame me for the
plight we're in, it did make me feel much better too. I had been put
in such a difficult spot, and when he reached for his gun, my
reaction was an instinctive one. At that point was one choice: life
or death, to protect myself and my family, or fail miserably.
came to my defense, as I would yours, without question. I don't know
of any woman I've ever met who would do as you did for me, and I do
so thank God that we met. " - George
"I'm going through a terrible time dealing with
my captivity here. Yet, there is that hope, that chance for freedom,
and I am clinging to that with the fierceness of a person who is
clinging to the last standing tree in a raging storm." - Lynda
"I have been penalized all my life, as you have,
for adhering to principle, and being honest. I defended my
principles to my own detriment. Everywhere I went, someone wanted me
to yield to a situation, an ideal, or purpose that was wrong - or at
least, wrong for me - and I rebelled. This has cost me dearly
throughout my life. Realizing this, I still am unwilling to forfeit
that what I hold dearest -my integrity." - George
"Though in a moment of total despair I may have
been tempted to entertain thoughts of ending it all here, I've since
come to terms with the fact. that, just as our lives are playing
possibly to the end, so are the lives of those who lied to us and
about us, who prosecuted us, who cheated us and stole from us, who
have unjustly punished us.
Even in this place, captive as I am, I
will not yield my principles. No matter how much I am mocked or
tormented, I will not forfeit my dignity. I will leave this world as
Lynda Lyon Sibley, and with all the pride that entails. I am content
to play this to the end, whatever it might be" - Lynda
I agree with you completely on the result we want
here. Patrick Henry's 'Give me liberty or give me death!' sums up
the way I feel, and all who share the same spirit as you and I, that
mere existence is not life. " - George
'I told her (attorney) I was tired of living my
life to suit others, including an enslaving government, and that
yes, I could have taken the (Florida) sentence and tried to live
under community control, but why? Why should I submit to yet another
injustice? When does a person stand up for the principle of
defending oneself against injustice, rather than submit for the sake
of expediency? Always, I said. I'd rather die than live as a slave
to government control or public opinion. " - Lynda
"I will never give up the fight for freedom,
never! No matter what, I will endure, and I know that you have the
will, determination, and faith to do it too. As you have said before,
they cannot chain our spirits!" - George
"Life in prison is not "life." It is living hell
for someone like you or me. Living in a caged existence where you
are told what to eat, what to wear, where to sleep, when to sit or
stand; where your meager belongings are regularly searched, where
even your body is inspected, where the only intellectual stimulation
you receive is what they allow - what kind of life is that? If the
jury has to choose between death or life in prison, they would be
far more charitable to give us death." - Lynda
"This is one man who won't make a "deal" and sell
his soul for limited freedom." - George
"You carried yourself proudly in the courtroom,
and this is what the jury hated. They wanted submissive, emotional
groveling. They wanted pained expressions of remorse. You are truly
a brave man, Sweetheart, and I am honored to be your wife. " - Lynda
"You have changed me forever, Lynda, and for the
better. I am a whole and complete man with you, and I know that even
if we can't communicate for a while, that you will never forsake me
and will always love me. I know you won't want anyone else, and I
want only you. I will always be faithful to you, my soulmate, and I
will not lose faith in our freedom coming Soon, or in Heavenly
Father's plan for us. " - George
"I tried to picture you in my mind, and the
picture of you I love best is how you look in jeans, your
snug-fitting shirt, and your leather jacket. With your tall, slim
stature and your wavy hair, you looked so incredibly elegant and
handsome. I love your boyish smile and your direct, intense gaze.
Such honesty in that gaze. I love and adore you. " - Lynda
"After all this time apart, sweet Lynda, I will
cherish every moment we have together, every tender caress, every
kiss, every chance I have to see you. My favorite memories are those
of holding you in my arms, sharing a tender kiss or with your head
on my chest. I await the soft warmth of your embrace as I bring you
to the exquisite heights of our lovemaking.
I pledge my eternal love,
and a promise of total and complete loyalty to you. You are one of
Heavenly Father's special daughters, and He has given me the Sacred
duty and honor to love, protect, and guide you, and I will. " -
"These months ahead are going to be lonely for us,
George. Please don't let my resignation of our present situation
make you think I will ever let my love grow dim. I think about you
Memories make me cry with longing for days gone by. I
want to lay with you once again, caress your body; to snuggle up to
you and your masculine scent, and then feel the warmth of you inside
me as we share love. I am not complete without you. I never will be.
I am yours for eternity. " - Lynda
Block v. State,
744 So.2d 404 (Ala.Crim.App. 1996) (Direct Appeal).
This case involved the death of career police
officer, Roger Lamar Motley, who, during a routine investigation of
a complaint made by a concerned citizen, was killed in the line of
The prosecution's case against Block was virtually
impenetrable. Block was convicted of the capital offense of murder
under § 13A-5-40(a)(5), Ala.Code 1975. The jury, by a 10-2 vote,
recommended the death penalty; the trial court imposed the death
penalty after a sentencing hearing.
The Defendant, Lynda Lyon [Block], and her common
law husband, George E. Sibley, Jr., lived in Orlando, Florida. In
August 1992, the Defendant and her husband were arrested and charged
with aggravated battery and burglary in a stabbing incident
involving Lyon's 79-year-old former husband.
They entered a plea of nolo contendere to these
charges and a sentencing hearing was set for September 7, 1993. They
failed to appear for sentencing. On September 10, 1993, the
Defendant, Sibley, and her son fled the state of Florida knowing
that a writ of arrest had been issued by the Court.
On October 4, 1993, the Defendant was parked near
Big B Drug[s] in Pepperell Corners Shopping Center in Opelika,
Alabama. She was using a pay telephone outside the store and Sibley
stayed near the car with the child. A passerby, Ramona Robertson,
heard the child ask for help. Worried that the child was in danger,
she kept an eye on the Defendant's vehicle as it moved to a
different location in the parking lot near the entrance to Wal-Mart.
As Sgt. Roger Motley of the Opelika Police
Department came out of a store in the shopping center, Robertson
reported to him what she had observed. Motley, a uniformed officer,
had been running an errand for the police department. After the
situation was reported to him, Motley approached the vehicle of the
Defendant. At that point, Sibley got out of his vehicle as Motley
Meanwhile, Lyon was using the pay telephone near the
entrance to Wal-Mart. Prior to approaching Sibley, Motley radioed to
the Opelika Police Department as to his activities with respect to
investigation of this incident. A tape recording of those radio
contacts was admitted at trial and played for the benefit of the
Motley approached Sibley and asked for his
driver's license. Sibley stated that he did not have one because he
had no contacts with the State.
Motley then requested identification
from him. At that point, Sibley pulled a pistol from a concealed
holster on his person and began firing at Motley. Motley attempted
to get away from him and ran behind his vehicle for cover.
officer then began returning fire at Sibley. Numerous shots were
fired by Sibley at Motley. The officer was able to fire his weapon
three times at Sibley. Meanwhile, Lyon heard the shooting and ran
toward the patrol car. She pulled a pistol from her purse and began
firing at Motley from his rear or side.
The officer was finally able
to get into his patrol car and radio for help. The patrol car
started to move through the parking lot in an erratic manner,
hitting several vehicles as it moved prior to its coming to a stop
near Big B Drug[s]. Motley was mortally wounded.
The Defendant, Sibley and the child then sped
away from the scene. After a high speed chase, they were stopped at
a roadblock on Wire Road in Auburn, Alabama.
The child was released
and, after a four-hour standoff, the Defendant and Sibley
surrendered to the police. A search of the automobile of the
Defendant uncovered numerous weapons and large quantities of
The police officer had several gunshot wounds.
The fatal shot went through his chest from the front at a slight
The fatal bullet was never recovered and tests were
inconclusive as to which gun fired the fatal shot, although it
appears, from the physical evidence and testimony, that [Block] most
likely fired it. In a statement given to the police following her
arrest, the Defendant admitted firing at the officer three times. At
the time this incident occurred, the parking lot was crowded with
vehicles and people. Numerous witnesses testified at trial as to
being eyewitnesses to the shooting."
The State literally had an airtight case; hence,
the State easily met its burden of proof on each and every element
of the offense of capital murder, in that there was overwhelming
evidence that Block had murdered Opelika Police Officer Roger Lamar
Motley while Office Motley was on duty.
officer Roger Lamar Motley
George Sibley Jr., the
common-law husband of