The Opus 30 Mission:
A blog dedicated to the exoneration of Mr. Shane Watson.
My name is Will Duchon. I live in Stratford, CT.
In 2003 I encountered Mr. Shane Watson, who is currently serving a 25 year to life sentence for second-degree murder. After careful review of the case transcripts, police reports, trial transcripts and other documentation, it became clear to me that Shane is not guilty of this crime. His case is an example of flawed "eyewitness" testimony, an incredibly flimsy prosecution, and essentially a travesty of justice. Shane is 50 years old, and has been in prison since 1993.
I followed up my suspicions about the case with Dr. Jennifer Dysart, currently a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC. Her SUMMARY confirmed my suspicions.
Along with some dedicated friends from Pleasantville Presbyterian Church in Pleasantville, NY, Monroe Congregational Church in Monroe, CT, the fine attorney Robert Boyle of New York City, and our dedicated investigator Doug Walters of Chicago, I am seeking to have Shane's conviction overturned so that ultimately, he will be free to enjoy his life.
This blog is simply a way to share Shane's story as well as new and current information regarding his case. I encourage you to read the posts that describe the details of his case. It is also an opportunity to learn about how flawed the criminal justice system is.
For details of the Shane Watson case, please read the SUMMARYby our investigator, Doug Walters.
Thank you for visiting.
Shane Watson's mailing address:
Mr. Shane Watson
PO Box 8
Otisville, NY 10963
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Shane and Me
I was born in White Plains, NY in 1960. My mother and father
divorced when I was four years old, and until my mother remarried in 1969 our
household consisted of my mother, my younger brother Marc and me. “Religious”
exposure came to me in the form of the Unitarian Church of White Plains, where
I attended Sunday school. Some years later I developed a spiritual curiosity
which eventually led to my working as a church musician, and even attending an
interfaith seminary program in NYC.Having studied music since age 7, this spiritual curiosity seemed always
to include an appreciation for the mysterious connection between music and
spirit. Add to this being raised by a very independent-minded and politically
“liberal” mother, it should not seem surprising to me that I would become
involved in a case of criminal injustice, but it is surprising, considering how
unexpectedly this all came about, and how disparate my world was compared to
I came into contact with Shane in 2003 through a radio
program on WBAI-FM in NYC. The show was hosted by the late Al Lewis (“Grandpa”
from the ‘60’s sitcom “The Munsters”) who was an outspoken advocate of many
issues, most notably prison reform. After sending in a postcard with my name
and address to the program, it was just a couple of months later when I
received the very first letter from Shane. At that time, Shane had been
incarcerated for eleven years. His writing was respectful and clear, and he
expressed gratitude for my taking the time to contact him. Our first exchanges
covered most of the essentials: our backgrounds, family members, interests,
etc. Before long I felt the need to dig deeper and find out why Shane was in
prison. I felt uncomfortable asking this question, but, after all, it was an
obvious next step. The response I received was a four-page letter outlining his
case, trial and conviction.
At first the facts seemed ordinary to me: Shane had been
convicted of second-degree murder. In 1991, an individual named Mark Johnson
was shot to death on a late October evening on a street in the Bronx. Mr.
Johnson had been convicted of murder in 1983 and was on parole at the time of
his shooting. Apparently, someone had provided Shane’s name to the police as
being the shooter, by means of an anonymous hotline set up by the Bronx police
department. Shane was tried and convicted in 1993, and sentenced to 25 years to
life. To me, this saga sounded like something from a TV show or a movie. Things
like this did not happen often in White Plains.
In the letter Shane wrote to me describing the case, he went
on to declare his innocence, describing in detail the flaws in the case, the
contradictions made by so-called “eyewitnesses”, and also disclosing his
whereabouts at the time of the shooting. Initially I read through all of this
with a sense of detachment. It all seemed too much for me to take in, and
besides, what did it matter? Shane had been convicted and sentenced, after all.
I let it go and decided to simply continue our correspondence, since Shane
claimed that hearing from people on the outside lifted his spirits.
During the days that followed my reading Shane’s letter, I
found myself to be distracted. At the time (2004) I was working as an
organist/pianist for the Presbyterian Church of Pleasantville, NY, teaching
piano, and also performing as a classical pianist occasionally. Something about
Shane’s letter seemed to be calling to me. I re-read the letter carefully, this
time trying to involve myself in the facts Shane outlined about his case,
trying to make sense of it. After reading the letter again and again, I
realized that it just did not sit right. I picked up a pen and paper and wrote
to Shane, asking of he could possibly send me copies of the trial transcripts.
One week later a box arrived on my doorstep at my rented
house in Milford, CT. Inside I found photocopies of the trial transcripts,
pre-trial hearings, police reports, lineup photos, police notes, arrest
reports, and other information. There were probably five hundred pages or more.
I started reading. The more I read, the clearer it became to me that in fact
Shane’s case should have never even gone to trial. This was obvious to me, even
given my complete lack of any legal knowledge or training. I decided to share
the information with experts. To make a long story short, the results of my
sharing this information led to my creating The Opus 30 Mission. The “mission”
was simply to get Shane out of prison. The original “members’ of what Shane now
refers to as “the team” is a handful of supporters from the Presbyterian Church
in Pleasantville. Through sharing the story about Shane, the “team” now
includes many people from all over the country, as well as from my present
church, Monroe Congregational (UCC) in Monroe, CT.
After nine years of hundreds of letters, many visits to
Green Haven Correctional Facility, and contact with Shane’s wife Paula and
Shane’s mother Joan, I now consider Shane Watson to be a brother. I never
intended or could have predicted my being so involved in the troubling dilemma
of a “stranger” from the Bronx who has spent the better part of his life (Shane
is 47) behind prison bars. I do not feel that I am “fighting for social
justice”. Lofty phrases like that make me cringe. Shane is not a cause, or a
human representation of some kind of “statement”. He is just a person. Shane’s
case will never become a sensational “high-profile” feature on TV, because it
is absent of celebrity, sex and money, and not “compelling” according to
entertainment standards. I disagree. The sad fact that Shane’s case is so
“ordinary” makes it….riveting. In God’s eyes we are all miracles and unique
vessels of spirit. Like our investigator Doug Walters, our attorney Robert
Boyle, and all the members of The Opus 30 Mission, I am just a part of Shane’s
story, which hopefully, will conclude with his walking out of Green Haven into
a long-overdue next chapter.