I was born to Johni and Gerald Marshall, both were addicted to drugs. I have 3 siblings. I am the next to the youngest. During our childhood there were times my siblings and I would go days without food. Vividly I remember one time we were so hungry we made a bunch of juice to combat the hunger. We must have made juice in cups, bowls, pots and pans. Just so that when the pains came back we could drink right then. When my mother came home she made us drink all that juice right away. It wasn’t a pretty sight juice was coming out from every which way, I can tell you for sure there is only so much juice a kid can drink.
This is just one of the nightmarish memories from my childhood that forced my mom to lose custody of us. Between our raggedy looking clothes and our knocking on doors for food, begging for food, the neighbors noticed and called “Texas’ Children Protective Service” (CPS), on my mom. When CPS came my mom was out on one of her smoking binges and we were at home alone for four days. A neighbour took us in, fed us and we were taken from my mom.
Soon after being taken from my parents my siblings and I had a choice to make, stay together or split up. My oldest sister and I stayed in Texas with hopes of being reunited with our father. My oldest brother and youngest sister went to Indiana to a relative’s house.
During the time my father tried to get custody of us. We were placed into a foster home. It was better than being with my mom with the exception of physical abuse. My mom never beat me but for some reason I would find myself getting hit in this particular foster home. I never mentioned it to any one because at least we were fed on a regular basis. Soon after I would leave this home and be placed into a boy’s home. This was great! Food and no abuse, but I wouldn’t stay in this home long because my father would soon get custody of my sister and me.
I will never forget the first night at my father’s house. My father used to give me money and some came up missing. The older kids took some of it. So my oldest brother came up with the idea to write a letter to the older kids. The letter was filled with profanity. The next day I would go home to my father. The day was going great, meeting my father’s girlfriend’s kids and then a phone call came. It was my foster parents calling to tell about the letter. My father asked me about it and even after telling him I didn’t write it (I was in elementary), he still beats. This beating was the first of many at the hands of my father.
I learned my father knew how to braid when he took three small tree switches and scraped the bark off them, braided them together and beat my sister and me. He always seemed to beat us for no reason. Then one day he beat us with a water hose. The whips were so extensive that the school we attended noticed and they took us away from my father. From there I was put in a foster home in the lower parts of Houston.
It was an African American home that for the most part was poor. The foster home relied on income from the children that it kept. It had six kids all together and was paid to keep each one. This home was not a place for kids simply because they kept the kids for the money. This is the home where I grew up until I turned 18. When I was 11 I stared going to the mail box and bank with my foster mother. Here I learned about how much money she was getting paid to keep us. It bothers me because this lady would do anything financial wise for her children and grand children but nothing when it came to her foster children, the ones who kept money coming into the house hold. Around this time I would been told my mother had lost all rights to her children because she couldn’t get off drugs and I also started drinking and doing drugs. In a sense when I look at it, I started rebelling towards my foster mother.
When I turned 16 I got a job at a Popeyes and started supporting my drug and alcohol (?) habit more. I also started buying clothes for myself. I started skipping school and this hurt my grades but I still managed to graduate high school at 17 years old.
At the foster home things went from bad to worst between my foster mother and me. At 18, which I was about to turn, the state of Texas wouldn’t pay for me any longer and my foster mother began to tell me how disgusted I was and made her and that I would probably end up on death row. She told me specifically when I turned 18 I would have to leave her home. On July 11, 2000 I turned 18 and I left.
It is important to understand I am not trying to use my childhood ans an excuse as to why I am on Texas death row. While I understand it is a major contributing factor. I am more hopeful that my situation will expose the fact the prisons in America are filled with foster children. A report showed that 69 percent of prisoners in California and Massachusetts were foster children in America. Also disturbing is the fact that 50 percent of homeless youth on the street are runaways from foster care.
As I have learned these statistics and reflected on how I was neglected as a child, I understand why I made the bad decisions I made, and I hope to bring this sit system of putting foster children from this foster care in jail to the publics attention.
The day I turned 18 I left the foster home, all my clothes packed in bags and I got into a car with my mom and cousin. I moved in with my mother who also had my other siblings staying with her. I then enrolled in college the following semester. It didn’t last at my mom’s house after about a week she ended up kicking me out. I ended up on the streets for a while. To survive I did things I can’t even mention. Sometimes I would just ride the metro all day and night until the bus stopped. Then I would walk down town Houston until the busses started back up and do it all over again.
My aunt and uncle eventually allowed me to come and stay with them. So I started school and did exceptionally well. I finished two semesters of school. Then things started to go bad with my uncle and he soon had his way in spite of my aunt’s objections. I had to move in with a friend. I then had to get a couple of jobs while staying with my friend. At this time I was 19 years old and was still unable to understand what it took to be a successful member of the society.
I had a couple run ins with the law. Nothing physical or aggravated as the state puts it, but after my last run in I was put on probation. Things started going bad from there. My friend who I was living with started arguing and we both agreed it was time for me to leave. I then moved in with my oldest sister who I came to learn was being evicted. Then in not thinking to get a job I started doing things that are not in my character. I was there for three days then arrested for capital murder.