Members of the Parole Board
Michigan Department of Corrections
Grandview Plaza Building
206 E. Michigan Avenue
Lansing, Michigan 48933
Re: Larry R. Carter, MDOC #258499
Dear Members of the Parole Board:
Problems and solutions usually begin at a singular source. I am the source of the problem that ended Lillie Blue's life, which began my 22 years in prison. I took Lillie's life. That terrible act was marked by a flash of anger, confusion, and then lasting shame.
I had lived a relatively normal life until that moment. I owned a home in Newaygo County, (which I still own). I paid my taxes, cut my grass, and had, only days before my horrific crime, creosoted the cedar post fence I had erected around my property. I was raising two sons, Lawrence and Thomas, who were 15 and 13, respectively, in 1996. (My three daughters were grown.) I was working two jobs, and nearing completion of a master's degree from Western Michigan University. In February 1996, just six months before my crime, I participated in a ceremony hosted by Deither Haenicks, president of WMU, that culminated in my induction into the Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Society.
Please understand, by showing this "Honor Society" award I am in no way seeking to boast. This honor mattered 22 years ago, and only from February 1996 to August 1996. Once I committed that terrible crime, membership in any "honor society" became mute and irrelevant. The only relevance it holds today - and why I mention it - is that it is a testament to my standing in my community prior to my crime. This honor marked a seminal moment in my life, from which I might have entered into a realm of true service, and good work. Instead, I chose selfishness.
Lillie, at that same time in 1996, was living a good life, as well. She was a manager of the Gantos Boutique on the West Main Mall in Kalamazoo, attending Davenport Community College, and raising a teenage son of her own, Rodney, who was 17. Lillie's only other child, Monique, was married, and the mother of a beautiful two-year-old boy, Neal, Jr. (I, too, had a two-year-old grandson, Jalen.) Lillie was very proud of little Neal, and he loved her.
Now, at 66 years of age, I do a lot more looking back than I do looking ahead. I suppose that is natural. I go over my many mistakes, one by one - and the good deeds - seeking to reconcile the contradiction my life has become. I wonder whether, in the end, if there is a chance that I might one day be called a "good person"? I suppose all humans hope for that as they near their end. Then, I am reminded of something Miquel de Cervantes wrote in his novel, "Don Quixote": There is a remedy for all things except death." I fear that may be my answer.
I have always believed that strong families make strong communities, and strong communities make strong nations. I was a good family man and an active participant in my community. I as an early riser, and a hard worker. My brothers and I learned a work ethic early on from our father whom we would follow into the woods to cut down trees. He did the cutting with his axe. We sawed the felled trees into chucks with our immense cross-cut saw. Then, we split the chunks, and took the wood home to feed into our only source of heat - a pot-bellied stove. It was during those years in the 50's and 60's, in the backwoods of Newaygo County, that I learned discipline, and the self-respect earned by a good day's work.
I still hope for a chance to not only speak to my grandchildren about their need for discipline and a work ethic, but to speak to other young people in my community, especially the young, African-American boys who so quickly grow into unruly and aimless young men. I can help, given the chance. It is not a matter of my personal redemption. God will decide that. It is, for me, a simple matter of wanting to help our precious African-American community that is so vital to the strength of this nation, but seems to be tearing itself apart.
I am an old man, but I am still a source form which solutions can come - we all are when we go about seeking to save this world one child at a time. I can make a positive difference. Perhaps I can instill into some of those boys a renewed respect for their black community - convince one or two of them - for instance, to pull up their pants, an start walking around like real men, instead of "sagging" their pants below their backsides, and walking about like clowns.
No matter what I might bring to the table, great shame will ever be a part of me now, a reminder of what happens when we let selfishness rule the day.
Larry R. Carter, 258499