May you rest in peace.

Ex-inmate dies of liver disease, but fight goes on. Supporters will continue their efforts to clear his name in shooting of police officer. By James Prichard , Associated Press, Friday, October 29, 2004

MAURICE CARTER - TREK II - by Doug Tjapkes - January 7, 2005 - The story of how the mission to free and exonerate Maurice Carter all started

A Most Happy Day!!!

Maurice Carter Released from Prison

In 1976, the year he was convicted of attempted murder, Maurice Carter was 32 years old.  When he walked out of prison in 2004, he was 60 years old and needed a liver transplant to save his life from end-stage liver disease.  Throughout the 28 years in between, he always said he didnít do it.

On a December afternoon in 1973, a black man in Benton Harbor, Michigan shot a white off-duty police officer.  The officer, Thomas Schadler, was inside a store with his wife when the shooter fired.  Though he was hit five to six times in the head and neck, Schadler stumbled out of the store and fired his own gun at the shooter as he fled.  The shooter got away.  Schadler and his wife told the police that they hadnít seen the shooter well enough to give a detailed description. 

On that same December afternoon, Maurice Carter, a black man from Gary, Indiana, was in Benton Harbor.  After the shooting, the police saw Maurice outside a downtown hotel and asked him to come to the crime scene with them.  Once they got there, the store clerk, a black woman named Gwen Baird, took one look at Maurice and told the police that he definitely was not the shooter.  She said Maurice had a light complexion, while the shooter had a very dark complexion.  The police told Maurice he could go, and for two years they didnít arrest a suspect in Schadlerís shooting.

Two years later, the police arrested a man named Wilbur Gillespie for selling heroin.  Because of his long criminal record, Gillespie faced life in prison.  The police told Gillespie that he could go free if he identified Maurice as the man who shot Officer Schadler.  Gillespie first said no, but two weeks later he signed a statement saying Maurice was the shooter.


On October 25, 2003 our friend, Maurice Carter, died from the liver disease.† He was loved by many and shall never be forgotten.† Here then are the words of some of his supporters.

January 2, 2005

As we begin the New Year, one more tribute to our friend Maurice Carter...this from Win Wahrer, director of client services for the association in defense of the wrongly convicted in Toronto, Ontario.† AIDWYC endorsed the efforts to free Maurice Carter, and win had the opportunity to ride with Maurice in the motor home as we traveled from the prison hospital to a public reception in Spring Lake, Michigan, on July 24, 2003, the day he achieved freedom.

"Maurice will always be remembered because of his ability to give love no matter the cost to him personally.† He was a rare gift to all that knew him or heard of him or aspired to be like him.† Such a gift is packaged only by a Master hand.† He kept giving laughter, love, wisdom and his heart even though he suffered unspeakable pain.† I always remember our very last conversation which was filled with laughter, teasing and dreaming, dreams of writing a book, helping others so they wouldn't have to travel the bumpy and unforgiving road he traveled.

"Maurice deserves to have his name cleared and I pray that the fight won't ever be over until that goal is accomplished.† He was good, kind, sincere and had a smile that could melt the coldest of hearts.† We were so very fortunate and blest to have been chosen to have him in our lives if only for such a short time but in our hearts forever."


It's the end of an incredible year.

December 31, 2004

Our good friend Phil Campbell, prominent criminal defense attorney in Toronto, had some wonderful words for the family of Maurice Carter following his death in 2004.† Doug Tjapkes shares them today as the final tribute of the year to his brother Maurice:

What impressed me through all of the legal conflict was how Maurice maintained his dignity and grace in the face of injustice.† It is that quality, more than any official pronouncement or verdict, which marks his character and defines him as a man.

I hope that the impact he made on many people, including those to whom he was a stranger, affords some solace.† He brought together people whose commitment to his case will someday help another man or woman unjustly behind bars.† He inspired others---me included---to renewed dedication to this work.† And he lived in a manner from which all of us can learn.

May all of us try to live in that manner in the New Year!

December 29, 2004

INNOCENT has faxed a message to the various Michigan media that provided coverage of the Maurice Carter story over the years, suggesting that Maurice should be named Michigan man of the year.† using Toronto attorney Phil Campbellís reasoning that just a decade ago he was almost a forgotten man, but in 2004 he died a celebrity; years ago he was considered by the judicial system to be a dangerous criminal, but he died a symbol of wronged innocence; and years ago he had only a handful of close friends, but he died surrounded by love!† The late Maurice Carter, Michigan's man of the year for 2004, and our hero forever!

Doug Tjapkes


December 26, 2004

A special worship service was held at Ferrysburg Community Church today.† the congregation has a beautiful tradition of lighting a candle in memory of members, friends and loved ones who have died in the past year; and, placing a rose on the altar in memory of babies who were born in the year now ending.† The first name on the list of deceased was that of Maurice Carter. His picture was shown on the overhead screen.† The first candle to be lighted was in memory of our dear friend and brother, who called this church his church!† As he would desire, may we continue to serve with peace and love in the struggle.

Doug Tjapkes

December 21, 2004

The Rev. Al Hoksbergen and I made our annual trek to Gary, Indiana, today to bring Christmas greetings to Maurice Carter's mother.† We go twice a year, for mother's day and for Christmas.† The tradition was started years ago when we represented Maurice as he remained behind bars.† Today we brought a beautiful plant, a fruit basket, and a few snacks.† It was also her birthday, so we brought a gift:† a small framed picture of her kissing Maurice on the day of his release, July 24, 2004. but most of all we brought her love, and we represented all of you, all who supported Maurice, loved him, prayed for him, worked for him, fought for him.† This elderly woman in failing health was so thankful, and expressed her thanks to all of you.† It had been my hope and dream to drive Maurice to Gary this year as a free man, but that was not to be.† He was there in spirit.† As the three of us stood in a circle, al's prayer was more meaningful than ever.† Mrs. Fowler said, "God has been so good to me!"† May we all remember those sentiments in this holiday season.

Mauriceís Mom

December 14, 2004


This is lovely.† For those of you who helped Maurice Carter through prayer, letter writing and other means of supporting his cause, we all say thank you and God bless you.

Sherry Swiney

----- Original Message -----

From: Doug Tjapkes

Sent: Tuesday, December 14, 2004 1:56 PM

Subject: tribute to Maurice Carter

Two inmates in the Muskegon correctional facility who correspond with innocent but who did not know Maurice personally wrote this tribute to Maurice Carter:


To our brother, Maurice Carter's family and friends:† we brothers here at Muskegon Correctional Facility believe in his innocence.† He helped others to believe in God;† to believe in the one who died for our sins;† and to believe that God would bring the innocent out of prison.† We will miss you, Brother, here on earth.† Know that you will never be forgotten!

Maurice was a peacemaker who endured the hardship of being falsely convicted and lived with the struggles of incarceration.† Maurice will be remembered as a great pillar of strength, spiritual fortitude, mental endurance and bravery.† The glory battle is the hope in winning.† Maurice would want us to forget the negatives in our past and press toward the prize of the high calling like he did.

Maurice always had faith that God would bring him out of prison.† He fought the good fight of faith, he has run the race that was set before him.† Now he's standing in glory, in victory, where in heaven and on earth he will never be forgotten!

Special thanks to our friends Andre and Dennis, both serving life sentences, for this kind and sensitive tribute to our hero, Maurice Carter.

December 7, 2004

----- Original Message -----

From: Doug Tjapkes

Sent: Tuesday, December 07, 2004 2:26 PM

Subject: supreme court

attorneys for the late Maurice Carter had asked the Michigan supreme court to review his conviction.† that court has discretion whether to allow his attorneys to appeal.† the university of Wisconsin innocence project and Mauriceís Michigan attorney have received word that the supreme court chose not to allow them to appeal, so the case is over.† now that Maurice has passed away, there is no way to obtain a federal court review.† so much for the Michigan judicial system.† efforts will continue, however, to clear the record of Maurice Carter.†

----- Original Message -----

From: Doug Tjapkes

Sent: Monday, November 08, 2004 11:25 PM

Subject: I have a dream

I would like to share something with all Maurice Carter supporters.† on the day that Maurice was released, Maurice, his family and his friends traveled to spring lake, Michigan, where we had a public reception.† we held it there because Maurice was going to be admitted to a nearby adult care facility.† he wanted to be in this area, he felt that our family was his family, and our church was his church.†

to set the stage for my message, I would like to give you this quote from Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech, delivered august 28, 1963:

I have a dream that one day...little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

last week, following public notice of Mauriceís passing, I received this message from a complete stranger:

I have followed the Maurice Carter story for several years.† You have all set a wonderful example of love and compassion for another human being.† I happened to be across the street from the club house...on the day of the celebration.† What a great sight to see people of all colors united, especially the children!† Thank you for all you have done to make the world a better place for Maurice, as well as the rest of us!

Maurice Carter's goal:† making the world a better place!


November 8, 2004

Maurice Carter remembered as loving and forgiving

The Associated Press

GARY ó Maurice Carter, whose life sentence in a Michigan prison was commuted for medical reasons, was remembered by friends and family at his funeral Wednesday as a man able to forgive and love, and some vowed to keep fighting to prove his innocence.

Carter, an Indiana native who died Oct. 25 at the age of 60, was convicted of shooting and wounding an off-duty Benton Harbor police officer in 1973.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm commuted his sentence in July because Carter suffered from hepatitis and needed a liver transplant.

Mourners gathered Wednesday at Gary's Genesis Center for the funeral, and Carter was buried at Fair Oaks Cemetery in Griffith, according to the Post-Tribune of Merrillville.

An attorney from Grand Rapids said he hopes to reopen the investigation with evidence that points to a new suspect, the newspaper reported.

"I made a promise to Maurice that even when he isn't here, we are all going to work to clear his name," Carole Bos said.

Keith Findley, an attorney with the Wisconsin Innocence Project who handled Carter's final appeal for a new trial, said Carter showed a special kind of grace.

"We learned a lot about love and forgiveness," Findley said. "He could have been absorbed by bitterness ... Maurice will be a guiding inspiration for us as we fight for the unfairly convicted."

While in prison, Carter was befriended by Doug Tjapkes, of Spring Lake, Mich. Tjapkes said he would carry on Carter's dream to establish the Maurice H. Carter Institute for Justice to help the wrongly convicted.

"Only God knows how many lives will be touched by his dream," he said.

Carter enjoyed three months of freedom after his sentence was commuted, although Michigan officials required he remain in the state. Carter's health failed in his final months as he sought a medical evaluation for the transplant, the Post-Tribune reported.

The Benton Harbor police officer in the case, Thomas Schadler, was shot six times. He recovered from his wounds. Schadler died two years ago from cancer. His family opposed Carter's release earlier this year.


By Pat Shellenbarger

The Grand Rapids Press

Thursday, November 4, 2004

Gary, Indiana---Nearly three decades after he was led away in handcuffs, Maurice Carter returned to his hometown Wednesday, taking to his grave his claim of innocence.

Several friends and supporters spoke during Carter's funeral, vowing to continue his fight to clear his name.

"You need to know there are a lot of people who don't want that to happen," said Grand Rapids attorney Carole Bos, referring to authorities in Berrien County, where Carter was convicted of attempted murder in 1976.† "We are going to work to make that happen...if he (Carter) can persevere for nearly 30 years, it's the least we can do."†

Carter, 60, died October 24 of complications from a liver disease he apparently contracted in prison.† His death came exactly three months after his life sentence was commuted so he could be evaluated for a liver transplant.† He was imprisoned nearly 29 years following his conviction in the shooting and wounding of Benton Harbor police officer Thomas Schadler.

Keith Findley, head of the Wisconsin Innocence Project at the University of Wisconsin Law School, called Carter's conviction "one of the worst, most horrible cases of injustice we've ever seen.

"I can tell you he's the only client I ever had who ended every conversation I had with him by saying 'Be sure to tell everyone I appreciate it and how much I love them.'† Maurice will always be a guide and an inspiration for us as we fight for the wrongly convicted."

Carter, who was black, was convicted by an all-white jury despite a tainted lineup, the lack of a motive and no physical evidence tying him to the crime.† The convicted drug dealer who initially identified Carter as the shooter later recanted, saying police had pressured him into lying.† A woman who witnessed the shooting has insisted for 30 years Carter was not the gunman.

For 29 years, Carter maintained his innocence, finally winning his freedom this past summer after doctors diagnosed him as terminally ill with Hepatitis C.† Governor Jennifer Granholm granted him a medical commutation, but Carter never was deemed well enough to be considered for a liver transplant.

His funeral in Gary's Genesis Convention Center drew about 100 mourners from Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin, including some who never had met him.

"To all of you who knew Maurice, be glad in your heart he did not go to sleep a bitter man," said the Rev. R. Jerome Quarrelles, a Gary minister.† Addressing Carter's elderly mother, Elizabeth Fowler, he added:† "Mother, you should be proud."

Doug Tjapkes, a Spring Lake man who befriended Carter a decade ago and founded an organization called INNOCENT!, said he and Carter often had dreamed of working together to help the wrongly convicted.† Carter had talked of expanding INNOCENT! to help victims of crime and to convince employers to hire ex-convicts, Tjapkes said.

"It may take years and millions of dollars," Tjapkes said, "but I am committed to converting the dream into reality."

The new organization, he said, will be called the Maurice H. Carter Institute for Justice.

Carter's nephew, William Jay Fowler, said he had only met his uncle a few times but had received letters from him, telling of the things they would do once he was freed.

"I'll never have that," Fowler said, "because he was taken away from me.† I feel I was robbed.† I feel my family was robbed."

----- Original Message -----

From: Doug Tjapkes

To: Maurice Carter update network

Sent: Thursday, November 04, 2004 12:29 PM

Subject: funeral comments

Doug Tjapkes:


November 3, 2004

My name is Doug Tjapkes, I live in Spring Lake, Michigan, and I was a friend of Maurice Carter.† We called each other ďbrother.Ē† My Family became his family.

I could spend my few moments here thanking the members of the Citizens Committee for the Release of Maurice Carter for their tireless work and countless hours spent on behalf of the Carter case.

I could spend my time thanking those organizations that worked so hard on Mauriceís behalf, starting with the University of Wisconsin Innocence Project but also including the Medill Innocence Project, Northwesternís Center on Wrongful Convictions, and Toronto-based AIDWYC.

I could spend my time thanking the churches and individuals all around the world for their support and prayers;† celebrities like Rubin Hurricane Carter and author Alex Kotlowitz who stood at our side;† and countless others whose names, if read, would take up more than my share of time.

I could spend my time condemning the State of Michigan, which must accept the blame for mishandling the Carter case from beginning to end.† That includes both legal and medical issues!† We will, by the way, clear his name!

And I would love to spend my time telling how this quiet, unassuming, gentle, and for many years unknown man from Gary, Indiana, became a model of patience, love and compassion to thousands of people around the world.

But I want to spend my brief moments explaining the dream of Maurice Carter.† Many people think that INNOCENT, the small organization that I operate assisting families and friends of the wrongly convicted was Maurice Carterís dream.† That is not correct.† I merely implemented INNOCENT as a feeble personal effort to show him that his dream can and will become reality.

Maurice and I shared our thoughts about his vision as recently as a few weeks ago.

His dream was a far larger concept than that of INNOCENT!† He foresaw the day when we would have an operation that would include a bona fide Innocence Project in western Michigan, using the pre-law and journalism students of our many fine colleges and universities to investigate cases, in cooperation with a consortium of all of the law schools in the State of Michigan.† In his mind, ours would be the model Innocence Project for all others in the country.

He had a genuine concern for prisoners who, upon release, needed psychological help as they entered the mainstream and needed vocational training so they could be gainfully employed, so we planned to do something about it.† He wanted seminars for employers to explain that former prisoners were worth hiring.

He was also sensitive to the victims of crime, and felt that we should be involved in restorative justice, which emphasizes healing the wounds of victims, offenders and communities caused or revealed by criminal behavior.

So as we dreamed on, we dreamed of an umbrella project called the Maurice H. Carter Institute for Justice, which would not only include INNOCENT and an Innocence Project, but also programs to assist newly-released prisoners, and a restorative justice organization.

That was the Maurice Carter dream and it may take many years and millions of dollars for its implementation.† With Godís help, in whom he had such a strong faith, I am committed to converting dream to reality, just as he was committed to converting a negative into a positive.† And if you have any doubt about our success with this project, think back on how many people doubted that Maurice would see freedom!

No one will ever know how many people have been touched by the life of Maurice Carter, and only God knows how many will be touched by his dream!

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."† Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

----- Original Message -----
From: Doug Tjapkes
Sent: Tuesday, September 06, 2005 11:00 AM
Subject: Gift

Those of us who work in the field of wrongful convictions don't do it for the money. There's rarely enough to go around. Even the attorneys in this field admit that this is not a lucrative category. That doesn't mean that there are no rewards. A pastor friend of mine enjoys reminding me that I'll get my reward in heaven. But occasionally, a very special reward comes along here on earth. And that was the case over the holiday weekend. Ray Gray has maintained his innocence since he was convicted of murder in 1973. His battle for freedom has been frustrated at every turn. We have tried to help him and his lovely wife Barbe since 2002, to no avail. I should mention that Ray is a wonderful artist. Even though we have done little more than befriend these nice people and pray for them, I received this beautiful gift, with these words from Barbe: Ray and I have a gift for you. She includes this update in her brief note: we have come to a time of great stress and difficulty awaiting the decison on Ray's getting a new trial. The powers that be in the criminal justice system are not interested in justice, only with keeping the status quo, the image of their office as infallible, and hiding mistakes. We persevere. The portrait of the late Maurice Carter, painted by Ray Gray while incarcerated in Michigan's Ryan Facility in Detroit, came with just this comment: Love and appreciation, Ray and Barbara. Ray and Barbara cannot know how much this gift means, but it's the kind of thing that keeps all of us working for justice on behalf of those who are wrongly convicted. I share it with all of you. Sincere thanks!

Doug Tjapkes, President
20 W. Muskegon Avenue
Muskegon, MI 49440