Dead Man Talking

Published in Otago Daily Times (New-Zealand) on May 22, 2010

Horror at capital punishment in the United States led Nigel Benson to befriend a death row inmate. Meet Charles Don Flores.

I first got to know Charlie Flores about a year ago. We have been writing regularly ever since.

“Delayed conversations,” he calls our letters.

I’ve never met him and am unlikely to. For Flores is death row inmate # 999299 in the Polunsky Unit in South Livingston, Texas.

I first learned about Flores after he wrote a book, Warrior Within, about his life on death row.

For the past 11 years, he has lived on death row in a 3m by 3m cell.

There is a bed, a narrow window, a stainless steel toilet and that is it.

He tells me he can see birds through the window.

Flores (40) was convicted in 1999 of capital murder (murder which carries the death sentence) after an elderly woman was shot dead by two men during a burglary.

It is a charge he vehemently denies in his letters.

He insists he wasn’t even there.

“I look back at my experience that put me on Texas death row and one would think that such a saga would be confined to made-for-Sunday-night television movies.

“Unfortunately, it is not,” he says.

“There are things in my past that I regret and am ashamed of. I have been in jail before and I have used and sold drugs. And, when I learned that I was wanted for capital murder, I did the worst thing I could do – I ran. I knew that I would be sent to prison, or worse, forever and this scared me greatly. So, I acted impulsively and I ran. [Read more on Otago Daily Times]

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