The Anthony Sanchez Story: Prison Conversations

The Anthony Sanchez Story: Prison Conversations January 22, 2023

**Anthony Sanchez through the years.**

 

January 22, 2023

 

 

The Anthony Sanchez Story: Prison Conversations

 

 

*This is a paraphrased interview with Anthony Sanchez, who was wrongly convicted of killing Juli Busken (murdered in Norman, Oklahoma in 1996) and sits on death row scheduled for execution in the coming months.

 

 

Jeff Hood:

 

When was the first time that you heard the name Juli Busken?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

There were some officers who came to the prison that I was already in.  They didn’t tell me why they were there.  They tried to interview me.  Then, he turned on a recorder.  Immediately, I said, “My name is Anthony Sanchez. I do not want to talk to either one of them without an attorney,” and that was end of the interview.  Then, the officers took me back to my cell.  ON the way, one of the officers started talking about the murder of Juli Busken and that was the first time I ever heard her name.

 

I didn’t think anything of it.  I knew I didn’t do anything.  Then, they came and got me from my cell in the middle of the night to move me.  That’s when I realized something significant was up.  Even then though, I knew I didn’t do anything.  But the move woke me up to the fact that something was going on.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

So, it was at that point that you knew they were going to try to pin some shit on you?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

Absolutely.  Because it was unheard of that they’d just come and snatch you out of a facility to move you to another facility.  That’s when things got real.  That’s when I knew that these guys weren’t playing around.  Then again, I didn’t know if they were just trying to get me confused or something.  At the new facility, there was a race war going on.  They was trying to talk to me in the middle of all this chaos at the prison.  Can you imagine getting pulled out to talk to these officers in the middle of a race war and then having to go back out to the pod?  It wasn’t like I was just dismissing talking altogether…it’s that I was in a very scary position with everything swirling around me.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

What was the new facility like?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

I was housed two stories underground in a maximum security prison.  There was no window…no sunshine…nothing.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

So they took you to McAlester, Oklahoma?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

Oklahoma State Penitentiary, H-Block.  I’d never experienced anything like it.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

When was the first time you talked to an attorney in the midst of all this?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

Maybe three days after that?  The attorney that I had worked with before wrote me and said to request an attorney and talk to no one.  Then, I connected with Joel Henderson, who was a friend of the family.  He took my case…but we couldn’t afford to pay him.  He actually stayed all the way until discovery and then had to leave.  Then, I got some public defenders.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

So, when did you talk to your family? Anybody on the outside?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

The first day that I spoke with the attorney…so, three days.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

So, that was about the time you figured out what they were trying to pin on you.

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

I can’t even begin to describe to you what went through my mind when they first said the word, “murder.”  I just kept telling them that they had the wrong dude.  Nobody listened…but I kept saying it.  During this time, they bounced me around from cellmate to cellmate thinking that I was going to talk to somebody.  It was very confusing.  During this time, I also kept being hustled from court to court.  It seemed like it was a different dude and a different face ever time.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

What was going on in your soul through all of this?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

I just kept praying.  That’s the one thing I knew to do…pray.  Other prisoners kept telling me to stop…but I knew better.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

So did they just keep interviewing you incessantly?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

Mr. Joel Henderson made it clear to them that I was not to be interviewed without my attorney present.  So, I knew not to submit to an interview without him or another attorney present.  But, I couldn’t afford to keep paying him.  If I would have had the money, I would have stuck with Mr. Henderson.  Before he left, he made a few things clear.  They didn’t have anything on me.  I needed to keep my mouth shut.  Believe in the system.  I did and that was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

So, when were you formally charged?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

Three or four days after I got there.  All I could think was that everybody around me was lying.  I knew I had never even met a Juli Busken.  I kept telling everybody that I was innocent.  It didn’t seem like anybody would listen.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

It feels like that’s been the truth the entire time…nobody would listen.

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

Absolutely.  That’s the one thing that has always been constant.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

So, did you still think you could beat these false accusations?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

I had faith in the system.  I knew that I didn’t kill Juli Busken.  I figured that the system would help me prove it.  I was so wrong.  The nightmare continues.

 

 

 

Jeff Hood:

 

So back then, you just believed that all of this was a mistake and it’d all just get cleared up?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

Even Mr. Henderson told me that this was all a mistake.  I mean, there was no evidence.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

What did you think when you started hearing about the shoe print, the phone, the bullet and all the other things beside the DNA that they were trying to bring in?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

I knew they were lying.  I figured everybody else did too.  Then, I got the public defenders and everything went to shit.  They didn’t listen to anything I said.  They didn’t check into one thing I told them to look in to.  I don’t even know if they could hear me.  I think they thought it was their job to make sure I didn’t get the death penalty and that’s it.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

So, you had multiple people that could have proven that you weren’t anywhere near Juli Busken that night and they were never called?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

That’s right.  The public defenders were the nail in the coffin for me.  It seems that they are for a lot of people.  The shoe print was garbage.  It wasn’t even the same size.  The phone records were garbage.  I don’t know those numbers.  The bullet was garbage.  It was recovered from a place that I didn’t even live in at that time.  The DNA was garbage.  It was handled by a laboratory that was widely discredited in Oklahoma City.  Hell, have you seen that sketch?  It don’t look anything like me!  That’s an old man.  If anybody had worked to poke holes in the prosecution’s case it would have completely fallen apart.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

So, I guess it felt like you were caught in a trap?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

I had no knowledge of the criminal justice system at all.  I was terrified.  At first, I thought it would all be cleared up and I’d get to go home.  By the time they started throwing the word ‘murder’ around, I began to realize that the odds were certainly stacked against me being able to prove my innocence.  I was alone.  None of my family was allowed to attend the trial.  I think it had to do with the fact that everybody in the courtroom was white.  Imagine.  White courtroom.  White judge.  White district attorney.  White jury.  Hell, even my lawyers were white.  And here was this brown man being accused of killing this beautiful ballerina.  They even had me in shackles the whole time.  I couldn’t move without the entire courtroom staring at me.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

What did you think when your former girlfriend came forward to testify against you?  Your oldest daughter’s mother, right?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

I knew she was full of shit.  This wasn’t the first time she pulled some shit like this.  Repeatedly over the years, she had tried to catch me in all sorts of bullshit.  Most of it had been proven untrue.  She was just a vengeful person.  Mad about the failure of past relationships.  Mad because she wanted to get me out of my daughter’s life.  Mad about everything really.  She also had some charges that were pending that could have gotten my daughter taken away from her.  So, I think they were pretty much able to get her to say whatever they wanted to say.  I couldn’t believe the lies that spewed out of her mouth.  Of course, everything could have been disputed, if my lawyers had done their jobs.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

So, what are your attorneys saying at this point?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

Don’t talk to nobody. You’ll be alright. We’ll be alright in the end.  During that time, I only could get a few visits.  My dad came every time.  He wanted the lawyers to talk to him so that he could set them straight.  I don’t know what that was all about…but I know they never talked to him.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

Were you aware of all the media coverage that was going on?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

I knew that there were a bunch of white people staring at me all the time.

 

Jeff Hood:

What did you do during the process?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

I wrote tons of notes.  I wrote everything I could think of.  That’s all that I had to do.  Even in my cell, there was nothing.  I just kept my mouth shut like I was told.  That was the same thing that my dad was telling me as well.  I knew that I was done when I watched them systematically strike persons of color off the jury.  That jury was definitely not one made up of my peers.  I think I took all of the notes to keep my mind off all the evil that was happening in front of me.  But, I still held out hope that the jurors who were left would be able to see through the lies.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

What did you think when the prosecutor started making you out to be a monster?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

It was like I was listening to something out of a fairy tale…a really horrible one.  There wasn’t nothing true about any of it.  None of it made sense to me.  I was angry.  But, I kept telling myself to stay calm…and keep writing.  At one point, I started writing the word ‘lie’ every time I heard them tell a lie.  I filled up a bunch of pages just doing that.  When the DNA expert got up there, I couldn’t even understand what she was even talking about.  I doubt the jury could either.  But, that’s what they do at these trials.  They talk over everyone’s heads so that everybody just blindly accepts what they’re saying.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

Did disgraced DNA analyst Joyce Gilchrist come up, I mean she did supervise some of the testing in your case?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

My attorneys brought it up briefly…but mostly just let it pass.  I had a tone of questions to ask about Gilchrist’s connection to the case…but nobody asked me.  I was just told to be quiet.  They did nothing to refute any of the DNA evidence.  I don’t think they cared.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

Why did they make you wear the shackles?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

It was all a show.  I clanked around that glass table the entire trial.  Talk about prejudicial.  That jury was told before I even sat down that I was a monster that needed to be shackled.  At the time though, I didn’t know any better.  I’d never been to trial before.  I thought that they shackled everybody.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

Did you feelings about your lawyers ever change?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

Yes.  I went from thinking they were incompetent to thinking that they were actually trying to get me executed.  They didn’t even push my baby’s momma on the stand.  She lied every time she opened her mouth, but they just seemed to let it slide.  To this day, I still don’t understand why she did all of that.  I guess some people will do anything to get their moment in the spotlight.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

What were you feeling when the prosecution wrapped up?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

I was thankful that it was finally my turn to prove my innocence.  Finally, everybody was going to get to hear my side of the story.  But my lawyers didn’t do anything.  I wasn’t allowed to say anything.  It was then that I realized the entire thing was rigged.  Everybody was in cahoots to solve this crime and make the situation go away.  My guilt was determined before the trial ever started.  Nobody cared about the truth.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

So, your attorneys offered no rebuttal?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

Not really.  No witnesses.  No arguments.  Nothing that was worth a damn.  They tried to make me think that we had enough to beat this without saying much of anything.  There was so much that they could have pointed out.  But, they did nothing.  They could have at least spent time talking about how little the sketch looked like me.  But, they didn’t.  I mean, the eyewitness described Juli Busken perfectly…and then described an old man with her.  I was a kid when they said this stuff happened…an 18-year-old kid.  I have no idea why my lawyers didn’t spend more time on that sketch.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

What were your thoughts when closing arguments began?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

Where were my witnesses?  Where were my experts?  Why wasn’t anybody arguing for me?  Nobody stood up for me…nobody.  My lawyers didn’t object to anything.  There were 49 fingerprints found on that car and none of them matched me.  To this day, nobody knows who those fingerprints belonged to.  The sketch wasn’t even close.  My foot wasn’t even close to the same size as the footprint they had.  Yet, nobody said anything.  The bullet trajectory matched someone who had the exact opposite strong hand to me.  No murder weapon was ever found.  I had long hair.  How could I have killed somebody and none of my hair fallen out?  Come on!  No ballistics ever connected me to the murder.  No hairs.  No fingerprints.  Just a faulty DNA match from a corrupt laboratory in Oklahoma City.  A certifiably corrupt lab headed by one of the most corrupt DNA technicians in history, Joyce Gilchrist.  I didn’t even live where they said I did when they said I did.  Nobody did any significant check of the cell phone records that they said they had.  They tried to say that none of this stuff mattered.  How could it not?  By the time it all went to the jury, I was just disgusted.  How could I not be?  It was absolutely brutal.  I even kept raising my hand and nobody called on me.  The judge told me to stop.  There were cameras everywhere.  I never got a chance to refute anything.  All of this so-called evidence that I was a monster…and I didn’t get to say one word.  I just kept clanking against the glass table.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

What happened when the verdict came down?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

I just wanted the Buskens to know that I didn’t kill their daughter.  It was heartbreaking not just for me…but I knew that they were convinced that the wrong guy killed their daughter.  So I shouted out, “I swear to God that I didn’t kill your daughter!”  I wanted to make sure that everyone heard me.  Then the officers grabbed me and drug me out of the courtroom.  Literally, by my hands and feet.  I hit every floor or wall possible.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

What did you think when they started pursuing the death penalty?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

I was still amazed that I’d been convicted in the first place.  I couldn’t believe that any of it was real.  It was awful…unthinkable really.  My lawyers seemed to give up.  I just watched person after person talk about how awful of a person I was.  How would you feel?  I was going to be killed over some circumstantial foolishness.  When they finally came back with the death penalty, my entire guts hit the floor.  I felt abandoned by God.  On some level, I believe I felt part of what Juli Busken must have felt…alone and violated.  My lawyers just wanted to get out of there.  They didn’t mention no appeal.  I thought I was going to be killed at any moment.  Once I realized I wasn’t…I just settled in and figured things would be solved by the appeals process.  Then, I got this steady stream of lawyers that didn’t seem to do much of nothing.  I guess they are all in cahoots.  I don’t know.

 

Jeff Hood:

 

What do you want people to walk away from this interview knowing?

 

Anthony Sanchez:

 

I did not kill Juli Busken…period…and I don’t have one damn clue who did.

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