The Story of Patric "AIR" Fairs
My story is one of perseverance and faith. I overcame the most horrific adversity and I’m stronger for it. In 2006, I discovered my fiancée lifeless in the Texas home we had shared with her two young daughters. In 2011, I was wrongfully indicted of strangling her and locked up on $1 million bond awaiting trial. I spent 427 days in jail for this awful crime that I did not commit, mourning my loss, and proving my innocence, before I was released and all charges were dropped. The case remains unsolved.
The Plight of
the Black Male in
the U.S. Justice System
I lost more than my life partner. A former basketball standout, I lost my athletic-training business and my role as coach of a half-dozen travel basketball teams. I lost my good name in some people's eyes, including some friends and some family. And I lost my father, who died during my unjust incarceration, and whose funeral I was not allowed to attend.
But I gained an inner strength throughout the ordeal by refusing to accept a plea bargain for something I didn't do, by turning to Scripture, and by relying on the steadfast support of my mother.
Not only was there no evidence to implicate me. Turns out, unknown blood and fingerprints uncovered at the scene were never tested, my lawyer and I eventually found out.
There's a terrible reason for this oversight. Williamson County, where I was confined, is notorious for prosecutorial misconduct, especially against black males. The predecessor of the DA who charged me eventually spent time in jail for misconduct that led to a wrongful conviction and was later disbarred after failing to turn over evidence that would have exonerated a wrongfully convicted man who served 25 years in prison on the charge of killing his wife. The DA who went after me also was dirty. He caused the delay of the release of the aforementioned exonerated individual for six years, fighting against allowing DNA testing of evidence from the scene, until an appellate court stepped in, and findings from the testing absolved him. In another instance, the DA hunting me thwarted efforts of members of the Texas Forensic Science Commission, which he chaired, to review compelling evidence that cast doubt on the guilt of someone who wound up executed. The Innocence Project partnered with the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association to investigate his and his predecessor’s convictions.
In my case, forensic testing that should have occurred immediately didn’t happen for years. When it finally resulted, at least my mother was alive to see me clear my reputation and go free.
Overcoming, Persevering, and Encouraging Others
For the 427 days of my confinement, I used my testimony to uplift, encourage, and inspire others. To this day, I still write those men (now serving sentences in prison) whom I was able to influence during the darkest time of my life. I take great pride in serving as a motivational speaker, especially to youth, urging them never to give up. I've restored my career as an athletic trainer. And I'm blessed with a new family. My journey takes me from hardwood successes to hard knocks, from lingering suspicion to unwavering devotion, from deepest misery to bright horizons.
Excerpt taken from the forthcoming book, 427 Days to Redemption and Rebounding from a Life Sentence of Judgement: The Story of Patric “Air” Fairs