A former death row inmate now living in Moulton has vowed to make it his mission to see the death penalty abolished in California.
Nick Yarris, who settled in Lincolnshire when he fell in love with Spalding barmaid Jessica Stubley – who he married earlier this year – is currently in America promoting his book and the film rights to his life story.
Speaking on social networking site Twitter during his visit, Nick – who spent 23 years in solitary confinement on death row accused of murder – said: “I came to California to advance my film and books but now I have no choice but to end the death penalty.
“I, all by myself, am going to do this.
“I believe in good. I believe good will prevail. Therefore it is without shame that I believe I will win.”
As part of his visit Nick attended a glittering annual awards dinner promoting human rights and the abolition of the death penalty.
During the evening awards were handed out to those who have worked hard on behalf of death row prisoners.
Nick was one of three former death row prisoners who have since been exonerated to be honoured during the awards.
He said: “What a great honour to be mentioned in the California death penalty focus awards.”
Nick’s fight to abolish the death penalty will focus on a current death row prisoner Kevin Cooper, who he believes is innocent of the crimes for which he was sentenced to death.
He said: “It all began when I read the law opinion of Kevin Cooper. I am now going to break the death penalty in California.”
Nick is currently promoting his second book about his life and the 8,057 days he spent in solitary confirnement on death row entitled Seven Days to Love. It follows the success of his first book Seven Days to Live.
He was convicted in 1982 for the rape and murder of a a young woman. DNA testing on samples collected at the scene could not exclude him as a suspect and he was sentenced to death in Pennsylvania.
He was to spend the next 23 years, as he faced first the electric chair and later lethal injection, fighting to clear his name.
During that time he suffered blow after blow, as well as severe beatings from which he still bears the scars.
He was only freed – in 2004 – after he became so ill with hepatitis C in prison that he begged for them to kill him.
A judge ordered DNA evidence to be retested and he was cleared.
Today he still suffers physical pain from the beatings he took, but the “survivor’s guilt” is harder to bear.
He said: “For more than 20 years my identity was bonded with those people on death row, I cared about them.
“I believe life imprisonment is far worse than the death penalty.”