James Prindle is a 15-year-old kid who is being railroaded by Memphis TN authorities for a sex crime he did not commit. The amount of secrecy surrounding this case, and blatant examples of official cover-up, convince us that James is being sacrificed because some of the other young people in this case are involved in activity—possibly child porn or sex trafficking—that the authorities do not want exposed at this time.
The authorities have done a pretty good job so far of suppressing this story and interfering with our defense of James by limiting our access to police reports, court records, and other basic information necessary to mount an effective defense for this child. Our investigator who attended an open court hearing was ordered to leave and, as I have written before, was threatened with arrest by a court clerk if this same investigator would not leave her office.
We have determined that the best way to blow the top off this cover-up and save James from a prison sentence that would result in his certain death is to give James a chance to explain the events of August 16, 2010 that have landed him in trouble with the law, and to do so in his own words so you can be the judge of his veracity.
I have written about this case twice before—yesterday in “Irregular and Weird,” and on April 29th in “Perversion of Justice.” As you will note, since late April James has shared certain details of the incident with us which provide clarification but do not substantially change the story as I first reported it.
These new details give a clearer picture of what it is like growing up in Cordova, a neighborhood of poorly maintained apartment buildings wedged between Interstate 40 and Germantown Road east of downtown Memphis—a lower-middle-class, crime-ridden neighborhood where kids run wild while their parents are at work, and where the police seem to be ever-present.
I will likely be writing about this case a lot more—not because it is a parricide (which it is not), but because my youth advocate colleague Stephen S. has taken such a strong interest in this case that he is filing for guardianship of this abandoned boy and is even willing to take James into his home once this mess is resolved. Stephen is a man of extraordinary character and dedication, and if this is what he wants, I am committed to helping him.
As I explained in late April, James is popular at school and earns mediocre but passing grades. He has never been in trouble with the law before. He has been labeled socially “slow” and diagnosed / medicated for a rash of mental disorders caused by TV, junk food, and bad parenting: Severe Depression, ADHD, and Borderline Personality Disorder. As you can see from his writing, James is smart and an organized thinker, which leads me to suspect that he may be an undiagnosed Asperger’s kid. James has run away from home several times, cut classes, acted out in school, cut himself, and was hospitalized for being suicidal. Nobody helped or cared. “I hated my life,” he said.
And now his unanswered calls for help have come to this. Read his words and judge for yourself if James is being treated fairly or set up as a defenseless patsy.
(James’ words are in bold italics; I have inserted only a few notes for clarity.)
Dear Mr. Stephen,
This is my best and everything I can remember about that night.
I came home from school and my grandmother (Pam Croft) was there watching my brother (Hunter Sanders, age 5) and sister (Neily Shea Sanders, age 2). My mom was working at Murphy USA.
My grandmother told me not to have any company, and then she left.
When she was good and gone, I called my friend Nick and he came over. He had 5 dollars and he went to Circle K (store across the street) and got me a Hot Cocoa and Munchies. He came back and sat on the couch. My sister was in the chair next to the couch, and Hunter was on the couch with us. We played the X Box 360 for about an hour, then he left. It was probably around 4-5 p.m. I put my sister in my mom’s bed and shut the door. I put in a movie and layed down on the couch, my brother was on the other end. I told him I wanted a nap and when I wake up I’ll make dinner, and I told him not to drink my cocoa. I also told him not to answer the door.
I wasn’t asleep long before I heard Noah knocking on my front door. Hunter ran and looked out the window and Noah saw him. I was very mad because I did not want Noah to know I was there. I told Noah he can’t come in because my Grandma’s here. He knew I was lying but I told him he can’t come in. A few weeks ago when I didn’t let him in, he broke open my mom’s window and came in. I told him if he comes in, he can’t have anything to eat and he can’t do anything. He said he won’t. I let him in and he went on the couch and used my cell phone. I really don’t remember nothing happening. It was calm until Micah (Noah’s brother) came in.
I let him in and said no one else can come in.
Micah had some money (I think about 50$) because he told us he sold his drum set. Noah had been on the phone with a drug dealer (I think his name was Jay) trying to buy some Zanex Bars. He told Micah if he could buy them. He said he could get 3 for 10$. Micah also had some weed too. Micah smoked that on the couch, by himself. Noah was waiting until the drug dealer came over.
In the meantime, Adam and Trel came over. I said they can’t come in, but Micah said yes and opened the door for them. I was getting very mad. There were too many people in the house.
Trel and Noah went to Noah’s house to get a laptop so he could sell it to Jay for some drug money.
Noah lives across the street at the Trinity Lakes Apt. (I think they moved though)
I was on the couch playing the X Box. Adam and Micah went in my mom’s room to check on my sister. I went in there once, but nothing was wrong with her. They were not in the room long, and they went in there a few times, so nothing could’ve happened then. But, one time I heard a slap noise when Micah was in there.
So I went in and asked what he was doing. He said nothing. She had no marks on her. I thought he spanked her and he said he didn’t.
Soon Trel and Noah came back with the laptop. Jay came over, and he came in and sat on the chair. He wasn’t there long. Noah got 3 Zanex bars, and sold the laptop for about 40$. Jay had a 22 handgun, and everyone wanted it. I traded my X Box for it because I was trying to impress them. Then Jay left.
Noah and Micah were trying to get me to snort a Zanex, but I said no. I just broke it in 4 and took it with some water. Noah and Micah did the same. Soon Noah and Micah were high, but I felt no different. They were acting crazy and funning around the house and stuff.
Micah eventually left, I don’t remember when, but I know he left before David came over. Trel left too.
David came over for a minute, and left. Noah’s money was missing and so was the gun. Noah ran out the door. Then, I was about to leave. Adam (Matthews, age 15) was looking out the door, and as I headed out, “I especially asked him if he would watch them while I go.” He told me okay, and I left. Adam was at the house by himself, with the kids.
David stays at Trinity Lakes Apt. too. I ran there and Noah was at his door. Noah was crying and said if David doesn’t get back the stuff, then he was going to beat him up. David swore he didn’t have it. Noah was about to hit him but David’s mom came outside. Me and Noah left and headed back to my house. This probably took only about 15-30 minutes.
When we got back, no one was there except my brother and sister. (Both of the kids were crying, and James attended to his little brother Hunter and asked Noah to check on Neily.) Noah went and checked on her and he told me that her mouth was bleeding. I went and looked and it looked like she bit her tongue or something. I told Noah just to put her in the bath and wash her. He got the bath running and put her in there. She didn’t get washed and was out quickly because she was crying. I got her out and dried her off. As I put her diaper on, I saw her vagina bleeding. I was shocked and quickly put it on. I did not have my phone. I was bawling badly. I wrapped her in a sheet and told Noah I’m going to call the police. I ran to the next-door neighbors and beat on the door. They didn’t answer so I ran upstairs. They didn’t answer. Just in time the downstairs neighbors showed up. I told him to call the police because she had been raped.
It was Noah’s idea to say someone broke in and did it. I went along with it because I didn’t want my mom to know I had company and left the house.
When the police came, (James has said he was so bewildered and scared that he just let Noah do all the talking. “My homey is slow,” Noah explained and laid out the lie for the cops.) I went along with what Noah said, and the police locked us in separate police cars. (Noah’s scheme unraveled when the boys were questioned in the separate police cars and, in something worthy of a late night comedy sketch, Noah said the intruder was white and James said, “Uh, I’m not sure but I think he was black.”)
I was very mad. I looked outside and my mom was there, my grandparents, and a lot of police cars and ambulances.
I fell asleep in the police car. It was around 4 in the morning when we arrived at juvenile court.
They took me in a room and my mom was in there and a detective (there were actually two detectives, sergeants S. Kelly–a female detective–and C.J. Ray–a male detective). I started to tell them the made-up story but he said my mom could leave, because I didn’t want her to know the truth. I told him I lied about the police report and told him all of this. He didn’t believe me, and told me they’ve already thrown away the key, and I’m going to be locked up for life. I was scared and nervous and could not think straight. He said something like I wasn’t making any sense, and then I went into juvenile. It was done.
That is the truth and the best I can write on letter. I remembered as much as I could. All of this is true, but if I left something out I’m sorry. I tried my best and I hope it helps you.
Best friend J.P.