[Editor's Note: Da'rryl Durr was executed this year at the maximum security facility in Lucasville, Ohio. During the two decades he spent on death row, Durr maintained that he was innocent of the murder which put him there. His conviction was tainted by a lack of physical evidence and the appearance of racial bias. To the end, he claimed further DNA testing would absolve him of guilt. His requests were denied.

Wil Groesz-Held, a friend of Durr's, wrote The Free Press from the Netherlands on Durr's behalf. Groesz-Held is not a native speaker of English, but his plain words effectively cut past the conflicting details and angry rhetoric, which confuse the case. Groesz-Held's frank emotions for his friend are reminders that the incarcerated and condemned are fellow humans and thus deserve every possible avenue of defense. His simple statements are reminders that execution is just taking another life. The Free Press reproduces the letter here in accordance with Durr's final wishes. - Evan Moore, Assistant Editor]

With this letter I fulfill a last request of my friend Da'rryl Durr. He is executed on the 20th of April this year. Before he had to die, I wrote him some words from my heart in which I expressed what he meant to me. He was touched by these words and asked me, in his last letter to me, to rewrite them as a letter to you and a number of other persons.

Here follows what I wrote to him:

Now I have to tell you the thoughts and words, which are in my heart, thoughts about you. I have to tell you why I respect and love you. Living so many years in such dark places as the U.S. Prisons and facing so much cruelty and injustice, you kept your heart, spirit and head high. You dedicated your life to bring dignity, love and respect in places where these values are rare. You have set an example for all the people around you, including me.

I think and believe that it is one of your life missions to bring light from inside places where consciousness and love hardly are present. You fulfilled that mission with dignity and love. I am proud to know you and thankful that you shared so many of your thoughts and experiences with me. I hope that my friendship brought you a little light, love and pleasure. You made it easy for me to be your friend because you dared to be open and vulnerable. Whatever may happen on the 20th of April, I am sure that life does not end. Your life goes on and all the good, the love and humanity you built in your life and gave to others, is eternal and wonderful and makes your soul more whole and glorious. Divine love is in you and around you.

What is done on the 20th of April is definitive. It is so sad that no one could prevent the killing. I think that it is a shame that a DNA test in which he could prove his innocence, is refused to him. I cannot understand that people take so easily the chance to kill an innocent person. When a prisoner is killed by the state after 21 years on death row, this is, in my opinion, a matter of revenge and not a matter of justice.

Perhaps you can do something with these words and thoughts I did what Da'rryl asked me to do. Thank you very much for your attention.

With kind regards,
Wil Groesz-Held
July 8, 2010