Life in Prison for an Accident?

Life in Prison for an Accident?

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Why this petition matters

Started by Antwan Wathey

Have you ever thought about what would happen if you were charged with a crime? Could you rely on the police and prosecutor(s) to take into consideration all the facts of the situation, and not jump to conclusions? How about if you are Black, or another minority. Could you trust that race or ethnicity wouldn't be a factor in determining how you are treated throughout the charging and legal adjudication process? As history, and present times show, there are countless instances of improper use of police and prosecutorial authority based on a suspect's, or victim's race or ethnicity. Indeed, such bias in the Massachusetts court system was the subject of a four-year investigation by the "Commission to Study Racial and Ethnic Bias in the Courts,'' as requested by the Supreme Judicial Court. In commenting on the Commission's September 21,1994 report, then-Chief Justice Paul Liacos said that when a Black person walks into a Massachusetts courthouse, "the likelihood is that they are not going to get equal justice." That was nearly 30 years ago, but the problems of racial and ethnic bias in the Criminal Justice system still exist today. Given human nature, they likely will never truly go away, nor will justice for Blacks and minorities be "equal."

My name is Antwan Wathey, and I am a 34-year-old African-American man who knows first-hand how racial and ethnic bias can improperly influence police and prosecutors' decisions on what to charge a suspected criminal with. For the past 10 years I have been in prison for accidentally hitting a man with my car and killing him, then panicking and leaving the scene. From the get-go I was overcharged with First­ degree Murder (a charge that mandates life in prison without any chance for parole) instead of Vehicular Homicide or Involuntary Manslaughter.            

It didn't matter to the powers in control that I was a 24-year-old man who had foolishly been drinking and driving recklessly that night, sadly like so many people do. Nor did it matter that I had no prior adult or juvenile criminal record. My longstanding work ethic and history didn't matter either. All that mattered was that I was a Black man responsible for someone's death. Lock me up and throw away the key.

In March of 2014, I was convicted of Second-degree Murder - a verdict I believe the jury clearly compromised on given the facts of the case and the evidence at trial. Although I can see Parole after serving a mandatory 15 years, there's no guarantee I'll be granted a parole, and, the Parole Board has sole discretion to deny me up to five years every time I see them - discretion which could amount to me dying in prison and never getting back to my family and loved ones to live a positive and productive life in society.

I absolutely take full responsibility for ending a man's life, and words cannot express how sorry I am, not only to him, but also to his family, friends and loved ones. They were/are all impacted by what I did. In my heart of hearts though, I know what happened was truly an accident, not murder.

When police and prosecutors decide what to charge someone like me with, that decision should be based on a totality of the circumstances, and racial or ethnic bias/prejudice should play no role in that process, nor should personal motives of any kind. If I was White, would I have been charged with First-degree Murder? I suggest not. The recent death of Boston Police Officer John O'Keefe demonstrates this. He was apparently hit by a car driven by his girlfriend, who left the scene after Officer O'Keefe was struck. Was she charged with First-Degree Murder? No. She was charged with Manslaughter. She's White, and so was Officer O'Keefe. Did race or ethnicity factor in to the charging process here, as I suggest it did in my case? If so, there's one form of justice for White people, and another for Blacks and minorities.

This is wrong!

Our country as a whole is dealing with widespread racial reckoning, and indigent Black and minority defendants like me are at an automatic disadvantage just because of the color of our skin. There needs to be sweeping reform of our Criminal Justice system to ensure equal treatment to any criminal defendant, regardless of their race or ethnicity, starting with the policies and practices of State and local police and prosecutors' offices. These agencies are run by public service officials who are human beings after all. Human beings with biases, prejudices, and all kinds of personal opinions. For these reasons, police and prosecutors should not have sole discretion in deciding what  to charge suspected criminals with. As my case, and many others demonstrates, improper use of such power in overcharging someone with a crime can have drastic, lifelong results.

I know that ending someone's life is indeed the most serious crime one can commit, no matter how or why it happened. Everyone's life, including my victim's was/is precious. The shame, guilt and horror of knowing that I accidentally killed someone is present in my heart and thoughts every day. I wish more than anything that I could go back in time and make better choices and decisions so that my victim would be alive today, and all those impacted by his death, including me, wouldn't have to endure the consequences of my foolish actions. The reality is however, nothing can ever undo the grave wrong I am responsible for.

I am not looking for a "get out of jail free" card. What I am desperately trying to do is get the Suffolk County DA's Office to take  an unbiased, second look at the justice of my conviction as if I was one of their own, and consider a reduction of my charge(s) and sentence(s) where I would be guaranteed a release date as opposed to the possibility of parole, and the opportunity to try and somehow give back to the victim's family and the community for the wrong I've done. That's true justice I believe.

Will you please support me in what I am trying to do? All I am asking for is what's fair and just. I have so much I can contribute to society if given the chance. My past never showed me to be a menace to society. Potentially dying in prison doesn't have to be my fate. Things can change for me, but I need your help to do it.

I truly appreciate you taking the time to read my Petition. I hope you will decide to give me the support I so desperately need by signing this Petition. If you can help in any other ways on my journey to freedom, please do not hesitate on reaching out to me directly by using the address below. 

Thank you, and Peace and Prosperity to you!


Antwan Wathey



P.O. Box 43

Norfolk, MA   02056-0043



307 have signed. Let’s get to 500!