Dear Governor Lynch:
I am Emily Bird, Ward Bird’s oldest daughter. I have attempted to write this letter to you many times over the past sixty-nine days that my father has been incarcerated. I have revised and rewritten multiple drafts, trying to convey my opinion and how I have been affected throughout this experience, clearly and concisely without being disrespectful and becoming upset. I am sure that you have heard and read many different accounts and stories explaining my father’s story and his character. Some of these people contacting you know my father personally while others do not. As American citizens we are proud to be able to use our right of freedom of speech, the press and the right to appeal our government in dealing with a very near and dear to our hearts situation. This has been an amazing learning experience, not only for myself but my family and community as well. Since you have received many letters and emails informing you of this particular case, I thought it very important for you to hear is from someone who is affected in every way possible from this whole ordeal.
I am eighteen years old and a freshman studying Civil Engineering at the University of New Hampshire. Being away from home for the first time was a huge change for me and it took me a while to become accustomed to my new environment and lifestyle. I have grown up as a part of a very tight knit family. My parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandmother, and cousins have always been a big part of my life; attending all of my birthday parties, school plays, sports games, recitals, graduations, you name it. I could look back and name at least ten relatives who were present at any one of these events. Being away from home did not stop the outpouring of love and support, especially from my father. He has always been there for me, showing me and guiding me down the right paths or lending a hand when I was down or needed help. He has always been the prime example of a father figure, one that many children yearn for. He continues to give advice, love, and anything he can from within his concrete room with only two small windows. For someone, especially in his position, to be able to continue this support and love from behind a prison wall, shows his true character. My father is the most hardworking, loyal, honest, loving, caring, compassionate, and supportive man, I and many others, have ever met. I know that those words do not necessarily mean much to you and I do not have a way of proving to you his morals and ethics without you yourself meeting and getting to know him. However, I can tell you that my father believed in the justice system that so horribly failed him, and to this very day he continues to have faith in it. For someone who has been through the treacherous storms of events in these past five years and can still believe in the justice system is amazing and something that many could not do.
Not only is it difficult for my siblings and mother to come home and not find my father working on something around the house or greeting them with a hug and a kiss, I find it difficult to not have someone I can call at anytime with a question regarding school, life, relationships, and to just talk to. I can only talk to my father when he calls my phone from jail, which costs two dollars per minute and when I go to see him for one hour a week on a Saturday. Since I am eighteen, I am considered an adult, and therefore I am not allowed to go see my father with my siblings or mother. My mother takes my three younger siblings, Ian (16), Aberdeen(13), and William(10), to see my father for one hour every Tuesday night. Because I am not allowed to go with anyone else or at a different time, my mother cannot see her husband of twenty-six years, high-school sweetheart, and best friend by herself. This past thanksgiving, my dad’s forty-ninth birthday, Christmas, and new years was the first time in thirty years that they have spent those holidays apart. This past Christmas was the first one in my eighteen years that I have had to stay up late and help my mother wrap presents, put out the stockings and deal with the cookies and milk set out for Santa. My siblings and I write to Santa every year on Christmas Eve and my father “Santa” writes back so when we wake up in the morning we have a response from Santa.
This year, my mom had to pretend that she moved the letter somewhere in the morning and that she would look for it, while the rest of us distracted William, my youngest sibling, from the idea of the letter. My father was not there to fulfill the family tradition. This was something that was very unusual to all of us and although we all kept our heads held high and carried on, there was something big missing, his presence.
In school I have many projects that my father, being a home contractor and very intelligent
person, could always help with and give me hints as to where I should begin my work and why certain things wouldn’t work. I know that I am able to figure these problems out by myself, but it is amazing to have that connection with your father. I look up to him so much and I seek his help in many situations. Not having the freedom to call him and ask a question whenever I wanted or needed to set me back in many different ways. One I had to go to many other people to find an answer, two it hit me at the most random, vulnerable times, that my father was stuck in a prison, not able to be outside, where he spends most of his life, with his loved ones, friends and doing what he does best, teaching and passing on his knowledge. Imagine being accused of something, by someone who does not have any credibility as a truthful person, having faith in your local police enforcement, the county and state justice systems, and then being found guilty, of a she said case, where there was no evidence to incarcerate him on. Having this be dragged out over five years of your life, always wondering what was going to happen, when it was going to happen, how to tell your children that you are going to have to leave them, for three years! How could someone with my father’s character, belief in the system, and past where he has taken
responsibility for anything that he has done wrong and a few things that someone else close to him has done, have his life, pride and integrity snatched right up from under him. This to me is just absolutely terrible.
My father has lived in the lakes region his whole life, was a contractor for twenty-five years, and then three years ago he became a co-owner of Picnic Rock Farms LLC, previously Longridge Farm, with his second cousin. He has been a Boy Scout Leader for eleven years, a part of the Meredith Church and Center Harbor Congregational Church since my mother and him wed twenty six years ago, and a great community member. Because of the criminal threatening with a deadly weapon charge, he is now considered a felon. With this there are many setbacks and repercussions that he will have to live with for the rest of his life. He cannot own any firearms, cannot be a Boy Scout leader, cannot vote, cannot leave the country, cannot earn credit, and cannot get a job with most people because of the record. Along with these consequences of a she said case, my father has to spend three years minimum in prison, his name is being belittled in the media, he is missing very important years with his children, wife, and loved ones, the farm, which is now being run by twenty-two employee’s almost all family relatives, could go under which would mean that those twenty two people will lose their jobs, my mother won’t have an income, and since my father is in jail he doesn’t have an income. A lot of people believe that he shouldn’t have had a gun on him in the first place but that’s something that no one fully understands other than his loved ones and the people closest to him. We live on Ossipee Mountain in Moultonborough NH. Our driveway is a mile and half in the woods, my father has/had all the required permits to carry a gun wherever he wanted, he was always practicing safe gun handling, emptying the magazine, clearing the chamber and turning on the safety before he entered any residential place. That is the only reason Ms. Harris saw my father’s gun that day in March of 2006. He was returning into our home to call the police to report Ms. Harris as a trespasser because she refused to leave. It was then that she returned to her car and left. My father’s call to the police station came in before Ms. Harris showed up accusing my father of chasing her down the road waving his gun at her. After all, this would have been physically impossible for him based on his medical condition at the time. He had returned from Maine Medical nine days earlier and was on doctor’s orders to not lift anything more than fifteen pounds in weight, to take it easy, and that it would be very difficult for him to walk around never mind “jump off the porch and chase” Ms. Harris.
Our case is very unique, and I understand that in a political point of view, for you to make your decision you will need to do your homework and have something to back up any decision that you make. This is a professional way to approach anything and I respect you for doing what you can. However, this being such a unique case calls for unique decisions. If you were to give my father a full pardon, which we have applied for, you would no doubt make many people happy. But, this is not only about making people happy. This is about doing the right thing, and justifying what has happened and what could happen to anyone at anytime. We are trying to get the point across that this case is setting the precedent that any person could trespass on your land, refuse to leave, and then accuse you of something that you did not do, and then get you thrown in jail with a felony charge. One single person now, based on the outcome of my father’s case, could hold the key to who ends up in jail and why. This is not how America is suppose to work, and yes, I understand that there are flaws and that we do not have the perfect justice system, however, we do have the ability to fix some of the flaws that we are faced with today, including the flaws that failed my father and his family.
Thank you for your time and energy of reading this letter. I hope that I conveyed to you clearly how this affects me and my family. I hope that you will grant my father a full pardon and that he will be home soon without the consequences of being a felon.
Emily H. Bird
Ward’s Oldest Daughter
P.O. Box 1055
Center Harbor, NH