From the August 1999 Idaho Observer:
Letter to the Spokesman-Review editor(s)
An article appeared in the July 21, 1999 edition of the Spokesman-Review regarding Rex Prewitt filing a tort claim against Bonner County. The evidence shows that Prewitt been shot for no reason (The entire horror story was published in the July, 1999 edition of The Idaho Observer) and the courts allowed the cops to lie as a mechanism to remove liability. The same article described The Idaho Observer as a north Idaho anti-government tabloid that believed Prewitt's version of the conspiracy.
The article prompted me to write a letter to the editor. The letter was first returned by a woman named Fern because I failed to leave my phone number and address. So, I resubmitted and was then told by Fern that the letter was too long at 415 words. I asked if I could be given more space in the form of a guest rebuttal. Fern then told me to forward my request to editor John Webster.
Webster never responded.
The following exchange is almost as enlightening as the exchanges between Marvin Gardner and the Idaho National Guard (see page 16). The lesson that is learned is that if you are falsely arrested, permanently injured and then found guilty and sentenced to prison, the Spokesman-Review can, without investigating the facts, be counted on to take the side of the authorities even if all of the evidence points to your innocence. Think about thast the next time you give the Spokesman-Review money for a subscription or buy a single copy from a vending machine. Think about that the next time you give the Spokesman-Review money to advertise something of yours. That newspaper can be counted on to take your money, but where will it be when you need it to tell the truth?
To the editor:
Please allow me the opportunity to clarify a few key points that were missed in the article headlined Burglary suspect says officers attacked him (July 21, 1999, page B1).
Let us start with the comment that The Idaho Observer is a North Idaho anti-government tabloid... and that Prewitt convinced the editors of the conspiracy.
Prewitt has been in jail since January 24, 1999. He was not in a position to convince me of anything.
I read the court transcripts. Deputies Tillson and Skinner's stories were inconsistent with each other and they changed several times. I visited the scene of the shooting and was able to determine for myself that for the incident to have transpired, as described by the deputies in any one of the seven ways that their testimony (as a matter of public record) has changed, is a physical, chronological and commonsensical impossibility.
A neighbor who was listening in the woods also has testimony that is consistent with what Prewitt remembers and is completely contradictory to every version of the story that the deputies have told the court while under oath.
The Idaho Observer is not an anti-government tabloid. Indeed, The Idaho Observer is a monthly tabloid-sized newspaper, but it has never been anti-government. The Idaho Observer is an anti-bad government newspaper.
Once you take the time to read the court transcripts, interview witnesses and visit the scene, a person has no choice but to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that deputies Tillson and Skinner maced and shot an innocent man, that they have both been lying under oath and that the court system was used to cover their horrible actions.
I was there when Prewitt was sentenced to serve seven years in prison for being asleep on his couch after Skinner changed his story one more time -- this time in a manner that makes it impossible for him to have maced Prewitt, an inarguable fact that had been established previously through medical records and testimony.
Any objective person would determine that deputies arriving in the middle of a cold winter night to pepper spray and shoot an innocent man who was asleep on his couch is representative of bad government.
If any of your reporters wish to hear the real story, I am not difficult to find. If you are brave enough, you will be able to learn the real reason why Judge Michaud sent Prewitt to prison. The truth is more horrible and more sinister than you can imagine.
Don Harkins, Editor
Sorry, it's still too long at 415 words. The limit is 250.
A provably innocent man has been sent to prison for having the audacity to be asleep on his couch -- an obvious invitation for the police to travel three miles up a dirt road in the middle of a cold winter night and shoot him in the hand and shoulder.
You publication referred to The Idaho Observer as an anti-government north Idaho tabloid that had been convinced by Prewitt of the conspiracy against him.
My 415-word response is still in brief considering the gravity of what has happened to Prewitt, the obviously inept investigative journalism that is reflected in the Spokesman Review story and the slanderous and inaccurate representation of The Idaho Observer published in your newspaper.
You made no mention to me that the length of the letter was an issue. Is it possible for me to be granted the space necessary in the form of a guest rebuttal?
Fern, I understand that your publication has established a pattern of believing that official sources are representative of the truth and that people who claim to have been victimized by lawless authority are liars. There is no doubt that this is true in some cases and I have turned down the investigation of cases where the people who claim to be victims have lied to me.
Prewitt is not lying. His story, published in the July edition of The Idaho Observer and attached below for your consideration, wrote itself because it is the truth.
The truth, Fern. Not a spin, not a version. The truth.
An innocent man has been sent to prison and The Idaho Observer has been maligned as an anti-government publication because I can read and I can listen and I can discern fact from fiction, truth from lies and good government from bad government.
Please do your readers a favor and print the truth. To do anything less is a horrible disservice to the people of this area. If this is a government of, by and for the people, and your publication believes the provable lies of government officials over the provable truths of victims such as Rex Prewitt, then who distributes the anti-government publication?
Please consider printing the letter in fairness to an inoocent man that is going to prison with a permanent disability and to the tabloid-sized newspaper that is brave enough to write the real story.
If you want to have a letter published on the letters page, it has to be no longer than 250 words. If you'd like more space in the form of a guest column, please contact John Webster, who selects those columns. His address is Johnwe@spokesman.com.
Please let me know what you decide.
The following correspondence has been forwarded to you in the hopes that you will determine that the sentencing of a provably innocent man to prison as a cover for the inept actions of Bonner County sheriff's deputies who shot him in the hand and shoulder late one night last January is newsworthy.
My letter in response to a poorly investigated article that appeared in the Spokesman Review was too long at 415 words. Please read the following missives and please consider publishing the letter in a guest column.
Don Harkins, Editor
I resent all of the above, including the original article published in the July edition of The Idaho Observer. Webster never did respond. Even though a provably innocent man has been sent to prison and it published a story that is provably riddled with errors because it chose to believe the "authorities" who have (provably) been lying since the night Prewitt was shot, the Spokesman-Review apparently has no interest in investigating the evidence and printing the truth. (DWH)
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