Help Us Right a Wrong for Greg Eskridge
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In the words of Greg Eskridge

"1994. 2016. 23 years incarcerated for a crime I didn't commit. A false testimony by a Long Beach, CA police officer changed the course of my life forever," stated Greg Eskridge, a prisoner at San Quentin State Prison in California.

For some, 1994 seems like a long time ago, but for Greg Eskridge, the events that lead to his incarceration  feel like yesterday. In May 1994, the decision to go out with his friends and their female dates  is a day he will never forget.

"I was just 20 years old, and thinking that going to a pizza joint in Long Beach would be a night of fun and good times with my friends," stated Greg.

On the way to the pizza place, one of his friends had accidentally bumped into a Jeep parked on the street and set off the alarm . Immediately, an older gentleman came out of a nearby house and accused the three men of trying to "steal his ride." In their mind, that was the farthest thing from the truth. Greg and his friends' just happened to walk by and bump the car hard enough to set the alarm off. Greg and his friend's apologized for the misunderstanding and the man appeared to accept the apology and the boys continued on their way to the pizza place nearby .

"The day I heard the verdict of 'guilty,' I cried. I couldn't believe it," stated Greg.

The road to a guilty verdict didn't just happen because of the incident in May 1994. No, it started at the age of 10 years when Greg ran away from an abusive home and ended up in and out of foster care over the next several years , and ultimately, homeless and living on the streets of Long Beach. He was no where near a perfect child, but his abusive and un-loving  home environment became the catalyst for why he sought a life elsewhere in hopes that someone would love and care for him. Greg never imagined he would be sitting in a courtroom at 20 yrs old, and found guilty  of second degree murder for a situation that never should have escalated by older individuals for which ultimately ended the life of another human being.

"When we later walked to the parking lot of the pizza joint, six men drove up in the Jeep that my friend bumped into. Led by the older guy we had the confrontation with in the first place, again he accused us of trying to steal his Jeep. At this point, it was us three against six grown men that were bigger and older, and highly intoxicated. We were terrified of what was about to happen. We weren't gang members, and we didn't want to fight, and we continued to argue our innocence," stated Greg.

We've all experienced a misunderstanding with someone, and sometimes all is forgiven, and sometimes it's not – misunderstanding with friends or family,  or something on your job, or some other petty situation that you later realize wasn't really worth arguing or fighting over anyway.

"We feared for our lives at that moment. six men to three boys. That wasn't a fair fight by no means. The argument escalated when my friend was punched in the face. The owner of the Jeep and several of his associates began brutally beating and kicking me and my friends, and soon after gunshots rang out. Everyone began to run and somehow I escaped with my life. The man that punched my friend in the face was shot and killed," stated Greg.

Months later Greg was arrested  for the death. He was identified in a picture line-up where he was the only person wearing county jail blues. Worse, Greg's picture was the only one with enough light to visually see. Greg's first trial was dismissed because of lack of evidence. During his second trial, the only evidence was a police officer's testimony who took the stand and lied about witness statements.

"The first time the case was dismissed due to lack of evidence. The court changed my public defender three times, and basically my last lawyer wasn't competent. He rushed into a murder trial with only two weeks of preparation, and no witnesses to impeach the police officer's statements of other witness' testimony against me. I never objected to my lawyer's decision because I was a young and naive to believe that my stated innocence was enough to free me," stated Greg .

It was this false testimony from this one police officer that led to Greg's wrongful conviction and 23 years served in prison. He is currently serving 65 years plus two life sentence because of this false testimony.  For year's Greg has been trying to prove  his innocence, but without the financial means, Greg has been stuck in prison. Greg is trying to raise the money to hire an attorney and an  investigator to locate the eye witness testimony that will get him  back in court for a complete review of his case.

Although the state unjustly imprisons him, Greg hasn't used that as an excuse to give up on himself. Prison changed Greg's life, and shortly after coming to prison, he restablished a relationship with God, is currently pursuing a college degree, and continues to work hard to prepare himself to enter back in society.

Today, Greg Eskridge is an award-winning journalist and podcast producer for KALW.org, Life of the Law.org, and KQED.org News Room "Stand Up San Quentin. Greg uses his journalism work to show the humanity he finds in his fellow incarcerated citizens.

Greg wants to come home, and not only because he is innocent of the crime he was tried for, but to be imprisoned for half your life has been painful for him and his family,  but also because his community needs him.

Van Jones once said, "sometimes a breakdown is what is required before you can have a breakthrough."

"Being in prison for 23 years has broken me at times, but it has also led to many other breakthroughs, life lessons, and the compassion to help other young men struggling against a world that says their lives don't matter. I want to save them from prison in all the way that nobody saved me," stated Greg.

If only we can do our part to help him come home , we would appreciate your contribution to his fund.

Journalism work by Greg Eskridge is doing for the San Quentin Prison Report, an award-winning radio program. 

KQED: Stand Up San Quetin

Life of the Law: Last Count

KALW.org - Greg Eskridge 

Additional articles on KALW.org - Search "Greg Eskridge"

 

 

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