February 16, 2023
The Emmanuel Littlejohn Tapes: A Summary
*This is a summarization of an extended interview/podcast conducted with Emmanuel Littlejohn about his life and case.
Full podcast located @ https://open.spotify.com/show/4zqmTtVJzyggmitxwyg9tV
I didn’t have to do anything…although sometimes it felt like I did. We all make choices in life. I made some bad ones. But at the end of the day, I’m the one that has had to live with those choices. So, I guess I’m just not interested in placing blame anywhere else. I was a part of a robbery that led to the murder of Kenneth Meers…and for that I am deeply sorry. With that said, I also want to make something very clear…I didn’t kill that man…I was not the shooter…though I feel remorse for my part. Let me explain…
My partner and I was slinging dope. We would get the dope from the dealer and sell it on the streets. Again, I made some bad choices. In the midst of it all, my partner was sneaking around and smoking the dope. So when it came time to pay the dealer, we didn’t have enough money. The dealer looked at us and made it very clear that he was going to kill us if we didn’t come up with the money quick. So my partner suggested that we rob the little store down the street. I hesitated. But what was I supposed to do?
So we went down there…and proceeded to rob the joint. Everything seemed to be going off smoothly. Then I saw somebody coming out the back of the store. “Look out!” My partner turned around and shot back into the store. I didn’t see what happened. I just ran. Everybody up and down the street saw what happened. I don’t know what I was thinking being involved in some foolishness like that.
We kept going. Then, we made it back up to the apartment. When we got there, somebody said, “The man at the store died.” My heart dropped to the floor. I couldn’t believe it. I felt horrible…and I knew I was fucked. So that night, I ran. I guess everybody runs home to momma when things get rough…and that’s exactly what I did.
As soon as I got home up in Kansas, I told her what happened. We robbed the place and the man died. Sometime around there I found out his name was Kenneth Meers. I felt like shit. There were two other people there. There was the cat running the cash register. Then there was a young boy outside sweeping the parking lot. I remember all of them so vividly.
The police didn’t catch up to me for about a week. My partner had gotten arrested a few days prior. His fingerprints were all over the store…because he was the main guy. Hell, he was the one who had smoked all the dope in the first place. Well, then the police showed up at my grandma’s house. They kicked her door in. When they didn’t find me there, they started heading toward my mom’s house. My grandmamma would have warned us but my mom didn’t have no phone. Then, I heard them knocking.
Immediately, I was like damn. Earlier, my mom had bought me a ticket to go to Seattle…but I never made that trip. Honestly, I thought it was one of my cousins…but it turned out to be the police. They asked who I was. I lied and said my cousin’s name. Then, another officer brought in a picture of me from Oklahoma. It’s hard to get away when they are sitting there with a picture that looks just like you. Then, they drew their guns. The game was up.
I was so angry with myself. How could I have done something so heartless and dumb? I hurt so many people.
I got interrogated there in Wichita. The police came up from Oklahoma. They kept telling me that I was going to get the death penalty. I was shocked. How in the hell can somebody get the death penalty when they didn’t even kill nobody? By the time I got back to Oklahoma City, the police done lost the tape of the first interrogation. So, I had to do it all over again. I mean…how does a tape come up missing like that?
The first time I talked to a lawyer was when I got back to Oklahoma. Of course, he told me to quit talking. But I didn’t listen. I wanted everybody to know that I didn’t kill nobody. One of the witnesses clearly stated that the tallest one fired the shots. My partner was half a foot taller than me. I wanted to make sure that everybody knew this fact.
A few months later, they put my partner on trial. The entire proceeding the prosecution declared that he was the shooter. Ultimately, the jury found him guilty. Then, they spared him of the death penalty.
Then, I went on trial. I was shocked when they declared that I was the actual shooter. I mean there was only one gun being fired one time as we were going out the door. How in the hell can there be two shooters? My lawyers protested…but the judge said that the prosecutor could offer different theories of what happened. I couldn’t believe it. They were getting to have their cake and eat it too right in front of me.
Did you know I waited on that trial for four years? Delay after delay. Stall tactic after stall tactic. I think they thought I was going to tell somebody in the jail that I was the shooter. They were greatly mistaken. I didn’t shoot nobody…and I wasn’t going to take the fall for somebody who did.
I couldn’t believe they kept on talking about the death penalty. I kept telling anybody who would listen that I didn’t kill nobody. I robbed a store. That’s it. While I am so sorry about what happened to Mr. Meers, I didn’t kill him. There was one time that I saw my codefendant at the jail. We almost came to blows…because I was demanding that he tell the truth. That was the last time that we ever spoke.
I didn’t have enough money to pay for any attorneys that were worth a shit. So, I was stuck just waiting on these cats. I was a poor black man with no hope. I was simply stuck at the will of the system. Even amidst all the bullshit, I still believed that there was no way that I was going to be convicted of murder. They had no evidence…and I knew that I didn’t kill anybody. Then, they offered my 45 years for robbery. That was a tough decision…but ultimately I decided I wasn’t going to do that much time for no robbery. Now, I wish that I’d taken that deal. With time adjusted for behavior, I would have only had to do 32 years. Hell, I’d be getting out right about now.
During the trial, the prosecutor tried to act like the witnesses didn’t know what they were talking about. These were their own witnesses. Then, they tried to act like there were all these aggravated circumstances. How could there have been all these circumstances? I was just a teenager when all of this happened. But it didn’t seem like anybody was standing up for me. The only black folks in the room were my family and I. Imagine any sort of fairness coming from such a room. Can you imagine how alone I felt? They said I would get a jury of my peers…but I can assure you that wasn’t the case.
They kept calling the fact that they pursued both of us for being the shooter alternative theories of prosecution. I called them lies. My lawyer thought we were going to win. It was at that point that I realized that he was crazier than I thought he was. Even after they found me guilty, I figured I was going to get life without parole. I was shocked when they said death. I knew I hadn’t killed nobody.
Everybody I met when I first got down here is gone. Over the years, there have been a few moments of hope in my case…but for the most part…everything has been about death. I’ve watched so many people die. I used to get to go to church. Now, I can’t even do that. Ronald Boyd was one of my closest friends…but they killed him too. Imagine…31 years of no hope. The lawyers seem to get worse and worse with each passing year. They more concerned with being buddies with each other than they are fighting for us. They’re just comfortable letting people die. I mean these folks trying to kill me ain’t my friends. I ain’t trying to win no popularity contest. I’m more concerned with living than I am being liked. You hear me?
Over the years, I’ve become sort of an elder down here. I do what I can to try to help as many people as I can. Though I’ve made my fair share of mistakes, I’ve always tried to do right by people. Even those who are trying to kill me, I don’t wish them ill…I just don’t want them to kill me. So, here I sit…trying to do a little good with the days that I have left.