The whole thing could be funny if it weren’t so utterly tragic. Adam’s mother crying in the video, “They brought him home, and then they robbed him right out of my arms, I feel like I want to die, but I can’t, he’s coming home, I know he is, I know he is – I want my baby boy back.” The devastating story of a mother who may not know what happened that put her son in prison, but she knows the raw truth. The evil at work that could do such a thing.
Or the little Refuge Church and friend to Adam, fighting back the beast they know so well that bangs at their door. Drugs, addiction, corruption.
While Adam’s faith in God may carry him through the most arduous journey one could imagine, it did not protect his physical being from the complicit forces working against him. Forces born of self-interest, when Lonnie Cleek thought he “had his man,” after invading the life of a still innocent man, nothing more, or the forces that kept the investigations of Malcolm Burrows secret by a Sheriff whose family profited off the pain clinics, forces that reach to Nashville through legislation created to allow such rampant corruption, forces that flow up the Appalachia artery to board-rooms in New York, to clans similarly ensconced in a veil of do gooding charity, similar to those who call themselves good Christian men, who have perpetrated the most despicable of acts. Treachery, hypocrisy.
The abduction of Adam Braseel is just that, an abduction. There is nothing legal about it, it is a prosecution cloaked in government secrecy and complicity which shows as a fact that big pharma now has the court system on a leash.
We watched as one local Judge vacated Adam’s conviction, after the community caught on to what really happened, only to see the higher court come swooping down to cover things right back up by brute force.
The State Supreme Court and attorney General’s office have gone to remarkable lengths to deny the true identity of the man that was murdered the night of Jan7th, 2006 in Tracy City, Malcolm Burrows, the other center of this madness. If they at least were honest about that one fact alone, and tried Adam Braseel on that basis, there would be little objection by Adam and his family, as they are quite confident the case would be dismissed before it started.
Looking beyond the myth perpetuated by the State that Malcolm was a simple shade-tree mechanic, we see, by hard evidence gathered over the last three years, that he was a middle man under investigation for running a pill mill. Trading illicit OxyContin. A financier of a pain clinic and involved in a turf war at the time of his death. A fact.
The methods by which the higher court has concealed this, is alarming — altering witness testimony, misrepresenting the identity of the crime scene investigator Mike Brown, telling us that Becky Hill was “unconscious” when talking to her sister, so she couldn’t have mis-identified Adam in a phot line-up. The claims of the court are so obviously false and fantastic, that anyone could see this, if they simply compared the states own files. Perhaps the most frightening aspect of this case being that the court tells us “we can lie, and what are you going to do about it.” Not even a veneer of justice is offered. Only cheap false shots to cast guilt, where none exists.
“These are people that look like judges, they act like judges, but they’re not judges. This wasn’t really a real trial. The prosecutor was scum. I’ve seen corrupt courts, I have seen corrupt judges. But I’ve never seen such courtroom political corruption.” This is a quote from a lawyer fighting a case in Russia. It rings all too true now in America.
Adam was one of the good guys trying to make it in a hard place. Grundy County TN, The poorest, least educated and deemed the unhealthiest of counties, statistically. But against the odds, Adam tried and was succeeding until fate got in his way. If you want to call it that
If I could show you this picture, his mugshot. It looks as if it were taken at a novelty shop as a joke, it just doesn’t add up. being a surreal portrait of a world gone mad. Five foot seven, with short red hair and his ears coming out not unlike a young Ron Howard, Opey. He is confined by the hardest steel bars in Tennessee, in maximum security prison, and an equally hard line story of guilt, being painted as a monster.
He grew up in middle Tennessee, Pelham Valley, and when it came time to go to high school he took the school bus up to what they call “the mountain.” The start of the Cumberland rise. Appalachia. Things for Adam changed over the years as peers and friends fell into problems with drugs and the crime that goes with it, if you’re poor that is. A rampant problem. Some friendships he tried to maintain, being the right thing to do, as a guy like Adam would do, trying to help them when he could. Looking the other way at times when things went missing from the house. It being so pervasive, it was the norm. The poverty, crime and drugs.
He liked going to Church and had a girlfriend Tiffany he was in love with and wanted to marry. His mother and sisters are friendly and in all their home tells you they have a loving caring family, which unfortunately is not the case for so many in the county.
This is what’s so disturbing about the case, in seeing the power shift so far from any moral center. The players that put this young man in prison through a web of deceit and corruption were the leaders of the community. So entrenched in their own self deception and social clambering for position and money they’d throw the kindest under the bus. Adam.
Still he kept on his path, leaving the county when his mother Imojean bought a house in Estill Springs. Though jobs were scarce he applied at UPS for a post in the shipping department, but didn’t hear anything back. So he wrote them a letter telling them they needed a guy like him and they wouldn’t be sorry. He was soon hired and no one regretted hiring young Adam Braseel. Showing up on time and working hard.
Having a job and living his life, having no connections to the darker side, it is an indicator of how bad things have gotten, when a young man like this takes the fall for the deeply intertwined complicit drug schemes of pharmacies, pain clinics, doctors, OxyContin and local politics, running up to state politics, all to deny the fallout of a little thought out legislation called the Intractable Pain Act, the device that created the mess in the first place.
This Kafka-esque scenario taking place should show us there is a lot to worry about. This is the case where the most innocent takes the fall for the slimiest out there. Where DEA agents who knew Malcolm was under investigation sat back and watched him be convicted while the state lied about his identity.
What caused all this? A fateful visit one weekend that led to a conviction for murder. All by a simple remark from a deputy to the sheriff of hearing of someone with red hair, which set the wheels in motion down towards Adam, a man from the valley, who became a perfect object of politics and deflection to blame for the death of a man that no one wanted to admit existed, as can be seen in the immediate facts when Malcolm’s house was burned and bulldozed to a vacant lot. Even the dead end road was paved immediately after the murder, as if to say it didn’t happen. At the time of the trial there was no house, the evidence was gone. Only the two relatives of the man to tell us what happened by the ever prompting aid of the prosecutor. And why? Was it to hide a greater secret that everyone profited from. Or just a few. But one thing was learned from the relatives, “Malcolm always had money,” yet he had no job, not a job like Adam had.
Knowing this same deputy, Sgt Mike Brown, who tipped off the sheriff about a red-haired man, is absolutely certain they have the wrong man in prison, and that the Sheriff and state agent tampered with the evidence he collected, showing we are not talking about a case of innocence, we are talking about a case where an illicit business is so out of control that the truly innocent get convicted for the crimes of the complicit as the complicit have seized power over the entire process. That Mike Brown, who handled the key investigation the night of the murder, who was not allowed to testify, though he asked to, he tells us what we need to know, how he was expected to turn a blind eye to the actions of people in power. But he didn’t, he says. And this gained him a reputation for arresting people he shouldn’t, almost getting fired on several occasions, and of course it would be better if someone else testified on his behalf. Which they did. Stepping in as an imposter of sorts. Offering hearsay after hearsay of what Sgt Brown did or what Sgt Brown saw.
And perhaps what is most incredible is seeing in the appeals documents of the Criminal court of appeals, not only do they fabricate evidence out of thin air, when neighbor Angie Whites’ testimony is altered to fit Adam, they tell us that Sgt Troy Brown found the body of Malcolm Burrows. Which is not a typo, as a Sgt Troy Brown did testify! He was not from Grundy County, nor was he at the crime scene or had any part in the investigation, but he did testify and Sgt Mike Brown did not. Whether this was a switcheroo to confuse the jury into thinking that the Sgt Brown being referred to constantly by the other officers had testified, is a matter of conjecture. But one thing is sure, the in the three day trial that convicted Adam Braseel, nothing close to the truth came out in court.
Sgt Mike Brown, upon seeing the appeals documents, where Sgt Troy Brown found Malcolm’s body, I asked him what he thought. “Well that’s not true, I found the body. David, that’s just nuts. How can they keep Adam in prison with all of this?”
Adam is not the only one in the dark. We all are.
Brown, a decorated Vietnam Scout was asked which was worse, being behind enemy lines or working in Grundy County. “Grundy, cause you can’t see who they are. Whose who.”
There is remorse when people are reminded or told of something they never knew. That this region was once an epicenter of social justice. That not but two miles from the murder scene was where Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King joined forces with educators Myles and Zylphia Horton. Where Eleanor Roosevelt came as well as Pete Seger and Woodie Guthrie. Who at this “Mountain Top” adult education School came up with “We shall over come.” The song of change, yet sadly this was not the case, the Highlander Folk School was shuttered by the locks bought at Flury’s hardware. The same Flury the 911 call came from the night of the murder. Because Malcolm didn’t have a phone, they said. And what Martin Luther King meant by “the Mountain Top,” when he said he’d been there, he was right here, the one place where Blacks, and the whites who were half passing Native Americans under the veneer, was the place where they could reclaim their heritage, not hide like they had done for years, evading the deadly fate of being put on the trail of tears to Oklahoma.
Adam was told he had killed a man who the paper called “a well-liked ex Alderman,” Malcolm Burrows. Adam knew who Malcolm was, everyone did. Malcolm got around and ran for mayor. But to see in this case that things had gotten so bad that it was not unusual for a drug dealer to hold political office. As SGT Brown will tell you in his 17 years in the force. Being there for his wife, he was still an outsider. That for almost ten years, Adam had no idea what Malcolm did. But others did, and painfully so. So why didn’t they tell him? Hard to believe perhaps, but the facts do bear this out. That in the ten years, no one warned the Braseels.
“We were all shocked when they arrested him, because no one knew who he was,” says an ex Tracy resident. “Everyone knew Malolm, he would cut it up with the lawyers and judges. But they knew what he did. I had to go to Malcolm to ask him not to sell drugs to my son. That’s how bad it was. I couldn’t go to the police, they already knew.”
In an Atlantic article, it tells of a similar small town in Appalachia. MANCHESTER, Ky.—This economically depressed city in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains is an image of frozen-in-time decline: empty storefronts with faded facades, sagging power lines, and aged streets with few stoplights.
But there is one type of business that seems to thrive: pharmacies.
So imagine that someone like Malcolm was murdered in this town, a middle man between doctors, the pharmacy and the street. And the Sheriff’s family owned the Pharmacy and a doctor’s office headed by notorious overprescribers of pain meds . You don’t suppose they might want to hide what this man did, do you? If any suspect came up that was not connected to the pill business, good lord, jump on that one. As all the natural suspects would lead back to the golden goose.
The accidental death rate in Grundy county has reached three time the State norm in some years, though it is hard to know which are drugs, and which are murder caused by drug wars. Clraims of suicide in the news are looked at with a jaundiced eye in Grundy, as too many times and too many families have a story where the authorities have pronounced a death a suicide, when they know it was not. As an EMS worker for Twenty years, Brenda has seen so many and some so outrageous fabrications that she grows wea ry that anything will change.
“When the prosecutor tried to get me to falsely accuse someone, he couldn’t, he had nothing on me. I don’t do drugs, I work a regular job. But seeing what they did to Adam, I may have been lucky in not doing what I was told.”
Adam knew he was innocent and thought the authorities including his lawyers would figure out what happened, why he was mistakenly identified. It would all be cleared up. When it wasn’t, and he was convicted, he wondered why. So did his family. What is sickening is that they absolutely knew, they all knew. They just didn’t tell him. They all watched as he was convicted. Everyone did their job as they had come to perceive it in this convoluted place riddled and corrupted by drug money. Where jobs were scarce and ruthlessly coveted. Where a Malcolm Burrows is considered legit, lauded for getting over on the system, dealing in the grey area of prescription drugs, being the backer of a medical clinic while selling the wares himself. Carrying around a bag of jelly beans for the kids, his reputation so far proceeding him.
In this environment, there is a way to go through the motions of your job and do nothing serving the truth. In Adam’s case, I believe it made people feel good about their own corruption to see the outsider mysteriously get convicted by simply putting him on the stand while knowing the witnesses had every reason to lie. Adam’s golf clubs being stolen from the car he willingly surrendered as evidence, was funny to some. Sgt Brown saying the only person he knew who played golf being Chief Deputy Cleek, who led the way to get Adam’s indictment. His signature being seen as the prosecutor. That when he went to his hearing and the prosecutor said “if we had to wait for evidence to come back from the lab before proceeding, our case load would be ungodly,” This amazing statement would make even Ney York Judge Watchler cringe, who gained fame with his meme that a prosecutor could indict a ham sandwhich. Adam was indeed a ham sandwich. “Ungodly,” is what Adam heard that fateful day, it would give new meaning to the use of God for Adam. Yet it still would take years for him to fully understand, that law enforcement was not lacking in leads, they were choosing to ignore them.
It was one of the hardest things I had to do, tell Adam the truth of why he was in prison. Of the forces working against him. His crime being, he had a job, he was not on drugs, and he was a cooperative good guy.
When I came in, being an outsider and not hindered by any relationship to the community, I was able to put the picture together very quickly. That there were very strong leads that were not followed up on, or considered by all parties by police, prosecutors, defence, press and the community at large. These leads all had one thing in common, they pointed directly to prescription drugs. Oxycontin, Soma, Xanax.
Some of these leads were sitting in the case file, in plain sight. One could see that even the Burrows, the family of the man who was murdered, that even they were initially pointing the finger in a direction that was ignored, thus adding to the confusion and weight given to the evidence.
In a bizzare set of snitch letters, statements made from the jail, the finger pointed at a Nurse Garner, who had a clinic in the area. And that she had received money from Malcolm Burrows to fund her clinic. A deal that soured, and horses were murdered.
These letters were delivered to the defense at the last minute, with an unsubstantiated claim that Adam must be an accomplice to explain them away. Yet they rolled forward. While no accomplice theory was presented in court, it got pushed to the jury as we see by Juror C who came and told us the foreman pushed this very theory, one not introduced in court. A crazy theory that has no basis in reality other than a last minute rumor that could explain how this thin small man had overtaken the six two, two hundred and thirty pound Malcolm Burrows, bludgeoning him and the his sister and then her son. Anyone who knew Malcolm knew he carried a gun. The whole story becomes so unbelievable, yet, he must be guilty. He must get convicted.
Not to get lost in a mountain story, it is clear that the family and friends had a suspect in mind when Phillip Clay said that Dana Frederick told him her father was hired by nurse Garner to Kill Malcolm, after he killed her horses and after she cut him off from pill prescriptions, after they came under investigation by the TBI, after Malcolm had lent her money to start her practice with expectations of a solid flow of prescriptions. Malcolm would arrange the customers to be transported to the clinic in what officer Stacy Shrum called Malcolm’s van service. The timeline of events is clear enough.
Busing people around to get prescriptions was not new, Malcolm did not invent it, but it was sure to gather too much attention. And it did. Malcolm at this point became a liability.
This evidence got pushed back by authorities as being ridiculous. Yet five years later we see Garner arrested, losing her license and checking into rehab for prescription drug abuse. As well as her overseeing Dr Florence being sued by the Feds for operating pill mills. Not so ridiculous now. But what about Adam?
Current Sheriff Clint Shrum said he was told the corruptions of the past were taken care of by the election. Really? Try telling this to Adam’s family.
There was a witness statement taken by Sheriff Myer’s that identified a couple driving a gold colored car at the crime scene. A man with black bushy hair and a blonde woman. And Adam having been a suspect for having a gold colored car, this would be excellent evidence of an alternate suspect. Yet was ignored, why? — After locating this couple I can tell you, because it points the case to prescription drug dealers.
I saw where Sheriff Myers had misrepresented this statement in his official report that went to the prosecutor’s office, saying that the man driving the car had red hair and leaving out the blonde woman. Clearly the Sheriff didn’t want to follow up on this and went so far as altering evidence. But why? Same answer. Here I understood why the Sheriff would allow a prime suspect to be instead a prime witness. The son of the woman who was found beaten, he, I found, had a record of domestic abuse, he was allowed to create the prosecution’s theory being shown one piece of evidence after another to build his story, while the Sherrif hid his history of abuse. All to avoid the truth.
The Sheriff would know who these people in the leads were, I believe that, for me it took a little investigative deceit.
I located a blonde-haired woman, who admitted she had been at Malcolm’s house that weekend with a man named Trey Meeks. She was now on the school board but she admitted that back then she associated with Meeks in not so savory ways. The two match the description made on the statement taken by Sheriff Myers. She told me about Meeks getting money from Malcolm to go to the doctor. That this was a frequent undertaking and I recognized this as what’s called a pill mill scheme. She soon gave me an alibi for the presumed time of the murder, saying that Meeks woke her up on the bridge coming from Chattanooga and said Malcolm’s dead. She wasn’t sure why they would be in Chattanooga. I asked her how Meeks would know Malcolm was dead and she said she didn’t know. Meeks left the state, he is now in an Alabama prison for assault and robbery. She was sure Malcolm was killed because he either knew too much or screwed someone over in a drug deal. Clearly Malcolm was more than the Shade tree mechanic the state was depicting him as.
I have no doubt the Sheriff would have known who these people were.
Combing the trial record for any place where Malcolm was talked about, what he did, who he associated with yielded no results. As if no one would go near that subject.
I did find on the initial witness list of the preliminary hearing a TBI agent named Kim Harmon, after which was written that she was questioning nurse Krista Garner and Malcolm Burrows for Medicare fraud, code word for pill mill. As being the mechanism the DEA had to charge doctors and nurses. As the Intractable Pain Act made it almost impossible to charge medical professionals for overprescribing.
At this point I realized that Malcolm was a middle man that if he did talk would be able to connect the doctors and pharmacies to the street, enabling agents to make charges. As the Intractable Pain Act did not protect doctors and Pharmacies for knowingly prescribing to persons such as Malcolm who resold the pills.
Malcolm had good reason to fear for his life if he was under investigation. And not from Adam Braseel.
This was confirmed to me through the first responder, James Caldwell who said Malcolm was calling the police saying there were prowlers on his road. He was nervous in the weeks prior to his murder.
Unfortunately, since Myers had destroyed the files upon leaving office, there was no record of this that I knew of.
Malcolm was a known entity with a record, his house had been gang raided by the DEA but still he was able to carry on his business. But why didn’t the defense attorneys bring all this up.
Malcolm’s autopsy showed he had high levels of OxyContin in his bloodstream when he died. Not even this was brought out in court.
When discovering that Sheriff Myers family owned the Tracy Pharmacy and Tracy Clinic where Dr. Florence and Garner had also worked, I understood why he would not want prescription drugs coming up in court. And why he followed no leads that pointed in that direction. I’m told Myers would never have been Sheriff but for his uncle Mike Yarworth.
The trial was taped by the local GCTV, which was also owned by pharmacy owner Mike Yarworth: “they were not going to mention anything about pills at this trail.”
Finding that the defense attorneys represented other doctors known for overprescribing was an explanation why they asked no questions of the witnesses about Malcolm business, or who else came to see Malcolm at his house
Learning that Judge Perry’s son died of an overdose prior to the trial was chilling, realizing that all the grown men in this courtroom knew full well what was going on, and allowed it to happen.