From Dudus' cell: Convicted gangster pours out his heart in letters
Man can never hurt my soul, Dudus tells cousinSunday, June 10, 2012
BY COREY ROBINSON Sunday Observer staff reporter email@example.com
CHRISTOPHER 'Dudus' Coke, the convicted gang leader who the United States Government described as a drug kingpin, spent much of the past two years since his extradition in June 2010 writing letters from behind the bars of a small cell which, he said, was called "the hole" .
Some of the letters, shared with the Jamaica Observer yesterday by his cousin Tanisha, gave insight into Coke's frame of mind while awaiting the conclusion of his trial.
In one of many letters to her over the course of 2011, Coke spoke of the conditions of his incarceration, saying that when he wasn't writing he spent most of his time reading sports magazines, his Bible and transcripts of his case.
Throughout these letters the man whose name drove fear into the hearts of many, and who had been blamed for violent crimes, made repeated references to his faith in God and how he believed that God had used him for 'good'.
"It's really wonderful to hear that I'm love and missed by many people and to know that I make a difference and touched so many people life, to God be the glory for all that he was doing through me," Coke wrote in one letter, which showcased a tendency to stray from standard English in some instances.
"I'm just taking things one day at a time and hoping, praying and keeping my faith in God for him to help me so that I can gain my freedom and be out soon... I'm very happy to know that everyone is doing alright, so let us give God the glory for taking care of the family," wrote Coke.
This faith appeared at times to offer some semblance of emotional refuge for the convicted gangster in the long months of his trial before a US court.
"Man can hurt only the body and heart, but they can never hurt my 'soul'. My 'salvation' comes from God 'only' and to him 'alone' salvation belongs to. So you see, I don't 'worry' when I can 'pray'," he continued.
Coke added that memories of the time he spent with relatives and friends also helped to him to cope when he was unable to listen to his radio or use the computer, which he was only permitted to do for a single hour daily.
At other intervals, he wrote, he spent his time pacing his cell.
"I do exercise in my cell which I have not done for a couple of months now, but I still walk back and forth in my cell although it's about five steps or six steps the most from one end to the other," said Coke.
"My cell is about ten feet long and eight feet wide. I'm in a single cell they call the hole. There is no TV, I'm locked down twenty four hours every day," he continued.
Coke was extradited to the United States on June 24, 2010 after eluding members of the security forces for about a month following military action in his Tivoli Gardens stronghold and other communities in West Kingston.
At least 70 persons, including a soldier and policeman, were killed in the two-day operation which saw heavily armed thugs engaging members of the security forces in brutal gun battles.
The US issued the extradition request for Coke following telephone calls in which Coke was overheard giving directives regarding drug and gunrunning operations in and out of the United States.
In one of his letters to Tanisha, Coke wrote that he feared that US prosecutors would use false evidence against him.
"I need a fair trial to gain my freedom because things are not as bad as it seems to be but based on my assumptions it look like they are planning to use false witnesses against me," he said.
However, he added in a later letter following his guilty plea in August last year: "I have come to the end of my court battle the worst way. I came over here to prove my innocence and ended up plea(ding) guilty — that's 'crazy'.
"With less than three weeks before my trial the prosecutors gave my lawyers materials that they were going to use as evidence against me, saying they have twelve witnesses to testify against me that I committed several crimes," he continued.
Probably the most difficult period of Coke's incarceration, however, was the death of his mother, Pauline 'Patsy' Halliburton, on August 22 last year. Coke wrote then that her death had been hard to accept.
"Right now I am hurting real bad because of the death of my mother, it's ripping me apart but I'm doing my best to stay strong, so I'm just taking the time to mourn the death of my mother which is so hard for me to accept," he said, urging relatives, many of whose names he listed, to stay strong.
At other intervals he wrote copiously, weighing in on issues facing other relatives; urging some of them to behave themselves, and expressing joy at the accomplishments of others.
In one letter he wrote that he was elated that one relative in Jamaica had given her life to God, and that a young child, Kimora-Lee, had started walking.
Throughout his letters, he urged family members not to worry about him.
But even when things seemed their most grim, Coke seemed to never let go of his optimism of being freed of his charges.
He even allowed himself flights of fancy and outlined plans for vacationing on Jamaica's north coast with his family, once he was vindicated of crimes he had been accused of.
"I'm keeping myself fresh for the reunion," he said in one letter.
Yesterday, as the reality that Coke had been sentenced to 23 years in prison became real to Tanisha, the woman recalled a court hearing in March in which his sentencing was put off due to lack of evidence.
"The judge was asking the prosecutors for evidence because they had nothing on him (Dudus). He requested that if they don't have any proof the next time then he would know what to do. So now they came with false proof," the woman insisted, obviously siding with her beloved cousin.
Tanisha said Coke was elated to see her and other relatives at that particular hearing which followed his birthday on March 13, as she had flown to New York to see him.
"He was happy because we were shouting out 'happy birthday!' and he was shouting back and blowing kisses at us. The only thing was that he was a bit slim," she said, adding that Coke had lost a lot of weight while incarcerated in the US jail.
Yesterday, just one day after his sentencing, Coke's old community remained unusually inactive, a sombre mood hanging over the area.
According to residents, persons had been hurt by the severity of the sentence meted out to their 'don'. One male claimed that at least five elderly persons had passed away due to depression brought on by Coke's extradition.
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