(AP) A former Georgia prison inmate who fled to Canada and then Mexico says he is now on a new mission: fighting for his life.
John Withers, 46, said Tuesday he has a message for prison guards and other inmates who could be at risk of being executed: “If you’re thinking about what happens to you when you get out of prison, get off your ass.”
Withers is a member of the White Mountains Baptist Church in the Georgia Southern area.
The church’s founder, pastor Billy Graham, has advocated for prison inmates.
Witherss’ family, who said he was a family man, said they haven’t seen him in months and were hoping to speak with him Wednesday at a chapel.
Watson, his mother, sister and two brothers, who were in the church, were not there, and neither were the two men who were arrested in the murder of his father, Richard Witherson, in 2014.
Wailers brother, David Witherss, who is serving life in prison without parole, is serving a life sentence without parole.
Wulfs and David were both convicted of the slaying, which is being investigated as a hate crime.
Witherbs’ brother, John Wither, who has also been convicted of murder, was never convicted of a hate-crime charge.
Wails mother, Denise Withersson, told AP that she’s never seen her son in such good spirits since the murder.
“He’s been to church with me many times, but I haven’t talked to him in a long time,” Denise Wulfsson said.
“I don’t think it’s possible for him to talk to us anymore.
He doesn’t have anything to talk about.”
Wailer, a native of the state of Georgia, fled to the U.S. in 2014 after a long battle with cancer.
He is being held in a maximum security prison in Georgia Southern for his murder conviction.
Wilson, who was white, was one of the first black inmates to be released from prison after he was released from a Georgia prison.
He was serving a sentence of life without parole for a murder he committed nearly 30 years ago.
Wilsons death is one of several recent killings of African Americans that have raised concern in the U and international community about the disproportionate and deadly incarceration of African-Americans.
A federal report released in May said there were 5,000 people in state and federal prison for killing whites in 2015.
The number of black men and women imprisoned for murder in the United States in 2016 was 2,842, compared with 726 for whites.
In a phone interview Tuesday, Witherds mother, who asked that her name not be published because she was afraid of retribution from authorities, said she wants her son to be able to return to Georgia Southern University in Athens.
She said her son has been through so much and wants to go back to school.
She said her daughter, who also is a student at Georgia Southern, is planning to attend university in Alabama.