I was taken from my mother at the age of two, with seven of her 13 children. My father was deceased. I was placed in an orphanage. I lived there from 1968 to 1984.

 The orphanage was a home and school. It was Bible-based and very strict. The same opportunities in a regular school were offered here, i.e., sports, choir and band. I was involved in both sports and the world-renowned choir. I was able to travel to eight countries and 30-plus states. When each of my siblings turned 18, they chose to leave the orphanage. When I turned 18 and graduated from there, I went to two years of college before dropping out. I worked at the orphanage during summer breaks.

 I was able to travel to eight countries and 30-plus states.

The teachers were also dorm parents. The president and his wife were my “make believe” parents. They gave me the attention, as well as the physical, mental and emotional support that I never had before. Therefore, they were the most influential people in my life. I truly thought they were angels from God, until they disowned me and kicked me off the ONLY place I knew as home.

I had a boyfriend, who was African American, and the administrators of the school gave me an ultimatum: either leave him alone or leave the school. I chose to move to Philadelphia with my boyfriend and his mother.

In 1987, I had my first child. Living with my boyfriend’s mother was very stressful, as we did not agree on how to parent. She was a heavy drinker and occasional drug user; therefore I would not allow her to keep my daughter, and this caused a lot of problems. I finally moved into my own place in 1988, and things were a little better. Then in 1990, shortly after my second child was born, I found out my husband was cheating on me.

After I visited my family in Michigan, whom I had not seen in 10 years, my family all moved to Michigan. My husband decided he did not like Michigan, and so we moved back to Philadelphia. Things were good for a few years, and then he began cheating again. I decided to move to Michigan permanently, as I could not afford to live in Philly, and in Michigan my family would help me.

Shortly after this, I met a man who would be the father of my two younger children. He liked to party, drink, and smoke weed. Thus I began drinking and smoking as well. I continued to work, but was too paranoid, and I would not move to my own place.

My sister that I lived with sold weed. When she was not home, I would take care of her customers for her. I benefited from the sales too. My sister sold to a man who would later become her “partner” in the business and ultimately my co-defendant. Although I knew what type of lifestyle he lived, he was always respectful to us. 

I never knew that he would shoot a gun outside the window of my car, killing someone, and thus causing him to receive a 60-120 year sentence, and for myself to receive a 60-100 year sentence for aiding and abetting. However, he was able to obtain his freedom after serving 20 years.

If I reflect back on my life, I wish that I had not been afraid to make the decisions that would be best for me and my children’s lives. I should not have been willing to always help those around me, without knowing what I was getting myself into. I should have stood on my education, both “street” and “book,” to make better decisions. I should not have involved myself in illegal activities because that is how my life changed and was ruined.