TOM'S TRIAL IN SUPERIOR COURT
While awaiting trial, and free on bail, Tom continued with
his service to his country. He was Honorably Discharged from the Marines
in 1991. Tom would remain free on bail for over five years. It would take
two separate trials to convict Tom. The first trial ended when the jury was
unable to reach a verdict. It was later determined that 10 of the 12 jurors
voted "Not Guilty."
The other two jurors had voted to convict Tom of the lesser offense of
Tom's mom (at that time) worked for the Brockton Area Transit Co. (BAT),
hired a lawyer for Tom after she took out a $20,000 mortgage on her home.
After the first trial, the lawyer demanded more money if he was to continue
representation at the second trial. He sought an additional $10,000. Once
again, Tom's mom struggled to raise the necessary funds. She was able to
raise another $7,000. Then unexpectedly, in late May of 1992 Tom was informed
that the second trial would begin on June 15, 1992. The lawyer pressed Tom's
mom for the balance of $3,000 in a week's time. The lawyer filed a motion
to withdraw from the case. He had given up on Tom's case. To him, it was
all about the money -innocence mattered not.
The trial judge refused
to allow the lawyer to withdraw at this late stage of the proceedings. Despite
the court's assurance that it would pay the lawyer, he continued to press
the Koonces for the $3,000. Prior to the second trial, the lawyer stated
to the Koonces "We don't need to spend too much time going over anything...I
know this case." No time was spent meeting with Tom or his family to discuss
either the case or trial strategy. Tom, with his very life hanging in the
balance, was ill prepared for the second trial.
At the second trial, the jury pool consisted of fifty-five Anglo-Americans.
Tom's mom expressed her concerns to the lawyer several times regarding the
fact that there were no people of color in the jury pool. One juror noted
that she had previously been robbed by a black male. Had Tom not noticed
this (by coincidence) on the jurors' information sheet and brought it to
the attention of the lawyer, she would have been allowed to remain on the
jury. One can only imagine how many other "pro-prosecution" jurors slipped
by his defense attorney. Subsequent to seating the jury, a male juror may
have brought a firearm into the jury room to conduct an illegal weapon demonstration.
While questioned by the judge about this matter, the juror denied it, despite
the fact that a holster and ammunition had been found in the jury room. Witnesses
for the state were intimidated and offered "freedom" deals on outstanding
criminal charges. Tom was discouraged from taking the stand in his own defense
by his lawyer telling him, "Well, Tom... not taking the stand worked well
in the first trial." Tom's second trial was a complete "sham" and a "travesty"
of justice. Tom was convicted of First Degree Murder by the all white jury
and sentenced to spend the rest of his natural life in prison. This, despite
the well established fact that there had been absolutely no motive or premeditation
TOM KOONCE TODAY
During the past ten years, Tom Koonce has dedicated his time towards four
principal objectives: (1) His spiritual relationship with God. (2) Bettering
his education. (3) Helping at-risk youth stay out of prison. (4) Getting
out of prison and continuing in his plight to help at-risk youth in the community
in a re-entry program.
In regards to Tom's spiritual growth: Tom has given his life over to God
and has really grown in his dedication and service to God. Tom (under the
pastor's care) oversees the Usher's ministry at the MCI-Norfolk Chapel.
He also helps coordinate the "follow-up" ministry, specifically for those
new Christians who have just accepted Christ and want to change their lives.
It is Tom's faith and commitment to Christ, that his strengthened and sustained
him over the long and trying years.
With regard to education: Tom began his studies in Criminal
Justice Law (while stationed in Bremerton) at Olympic College in Washington,
in theSprrng of 1987. Despite his unfortunate circumstances, Tom continued
his education from the moment he arrived at Walpole State Prison in 1992.
Tom was eventually transferred to MCI-Norfolk, where he would continue his
education via Boston University Prison Program. Tom graduated "Magna Cum
Laude" (i.e. with high honors) and received his Bachelor's Degree in 1998.
With respect to helping at-risk youth: Tom is the principal coordinator
of the Second Thoughts, Inc. program. Tom has been involved in helping to
keep at-risk youth out of prison, for the last ten years. There is no doubt
that Tom enjoys what he is doing, as coordinating any youth program requires
a great deal of time, patience, and sacrifice. Tom has literally helped counsel
"thousands" of at-risk youth over the years and still has the fire and desire
to counsel a thousand more. He simply loves working with the youth!
In attempts to reach even more youth, Tom (and the Board of Directors)
have now shifted their focus toward also reaching the at-risk youth within
the community, by incorporating a brother program to Second Thoughts, Inc.,
(operating outside the prison). This reentry program will be appropriately
named, "Second Thoughts II...Beyond The Walls!" Second Thoughts II will
operate within the community and assist at-risk youth in their neighborhoods
and schools. This brother program will also meet the needs of those youths
and adults leaving the system, by providing more counseling opportunities
to youth in the community, and by also providing these ex-offenders jobs,
education, training, and guidance in an attempt to keep them on the right
The "Fight for Justice": Over the years, Tom has continued to appeal his
case through both State and " .Federal Courts, in hopes that someone will
see the injustice and act upon it. Although Tom's dreams of being in Law
Enforcement may have been shattered, his dreams and willingness to help others'
continues to flourish. Tom, his family and supporters are still praying that
the system will eventually "right the wrong", but until that time, he needs
his case to be exposed! We need to bring this case of injustice to the "Court
of Public Opinion."
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
You can help Tom and his family by helping them to reach out to those who
can make a difference: The President, the Governor, Political Leaders/Activists,
Celebrities, Religious Organizations and Media Sources etc. We need a massive
letter writing campaign on behalf of Thomas. For additional information
about Tom's case, write directly to Tom at P.O. Box 43, Norfolk, MA02056
Tom and his family continue to ask for your prayers, support, and suggestions,
in helping him fight this battle. Financial contributions for investigators
and letter writing campaigns (stamps, envelopes, paper) are always helpful.
Thank you! You may mail your contributions to Lula Koonce, P.O. Box 153,
Coy, AL 36435. Please call Tom's family (334) 337-4390 or (508) 587-6380.