Jacksonville Daily Progress
Following is a transcript containing most of the roughly 30-minute interview Jacksonville Daily Progress reporter conducted with Death Row inmate Richard Cobb March 6 at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, a facility that holds nearly 3,000 inmates.
There were a few additional minutes of interview after the tape recorder had reached capacity:
• Cobb related that he had been disciplined for somehow sneaking a cellular phone into his cell.
• Cobb said he was adopted and had just came into contact with his birth mother around the time his execution date was announced. At the time of the interview the birth mother had recently fallen out of contact with Cobb.
• Cobb initially canceled the interview but changed his mind before the reporter left the Death Row facility. He later told the reporter it was because he woke up in a bad mood.
• Cobb was skittish about discussing specifics about the case, so the reporter was forced to tip-toe around certain subjects and ask several generic "how are you doing?" questions.
FOLLOWING IS THE INTERVIEW:
TINSLEY: Okay. We're talking to Richard Cobb. He's here on Death Row and basically I wanted to, I guess, ask you first off, Richard, if you had, you've been in here ten years, correct? If you had anything you really want to say, anything up front on your mind. About the case, about life, about anything.
COBB: No, nothing. No nothing, especially.
TINSLEY: Ten years ago is a lot of appeals. I was wondering if you would mind walking me through what happened, from your perspective.
COBB: I'm not going to go into anything about the crime itself.
TINSLEY: I gotcha. Do you have any last appeals prepared?
COBB: No, not really. You know, we've shooting and trying, you know, to get. There's nothing, As far as formal appeals go, its exhausted. Just some kind of last-ditch thing at the last minute. What you're formally given is all exhausted.
TINSLEY: Well, just on a personal note, that's got to be rough on you, right?
COBB: Yeah, you know.
TINSLEY: I mean, is there some frustration there?
COBB: Yeah. There's plenty of frustration because there's so much you want to experience that you know you won't: Looking back you know I never really had a life and whenever I thought I did, that got taken way from me. There was a lot (unintelligible) but at the same time it will be somewhat of a relief because I wont be imprisoned anymore. No more captivity. Oppression. Oppressive atmosphere of a death row person.
TINSLEY: You're on 23-hour lockdown, right?
COBB: Yeah, yeah.
TINSLEY: Real tight cell and not a lot of reading matter?
COBB: Yeah, time to time, depending on the level of custody you know.
TINSLEY: I mean, what do you have in your room now? A Bible?
COBB: Little meager writing supplies and a radio.
TINSLEY: It get good reception?
COBB: Yeah. AM. FM.
TINSLEY: So you listen to a lot of oldies probably.
COBB: No, I listen to whatever is on around this area
TINSLEY: Do you read a lot of clips? Newspaper stuff?
COBB: You mean about myself?
TINSLEY: Or anything really.
COBB: I read whatever I can get my hands on.
TINSLEY: Is that a lot?
COBB: It varies, really. Whatever I can get, whatever publication I have, whatever people might send to me.
TINSLEY: Do you have a lot of people writing you?
COBB: Sort of. There has been a lot of mail since they gave me an execution date, but there's not been a lot on a regular basis.
TINSLEY: Do you write a lot of letters to anyone else?
COBB: Um, I'd say I write a fair amount of letters. Mail, you know. Gets rather tiring writing all the time.
TINSLEY: I can imagine.
TINSLEY: On your profile it says you were a laborer.
COBB: What profile is that?
TINSLEY: The one on TDC (website). “Laborer” is such a generic term. What were you doing specifically? What was your job?
COBB: Whatever. When I got arrested I was working for temporary service.
TINSLEY: Oh, you were a temp?
COBB: I went to different places doing like yard work. … No, not like going to factories, just places.
TINSLEY: Where were you from originally?
COBB: Well, I was from Jacksonville.
TINSLEY: Oh really?
TINSLEY: Did you go to Jacksonville High? Did you transfer or drop out?
COBB: Right before my sophomore year, I moved to Rusk.
TINSLEY: Not trying to get into the case but the guy you were convicted with, your co-defendant, or whatever you call him, was he your friend at some point?
COBB: I wouldn't say we were good friends but we were on an associate type level.
TINSLEY: Did you have any good friends?
COBB: Yeah, of course.
TINSLEY: Well, some people don't.
COBB: Probably average.
(A GUARD ENTERS THE CELL, PUTS A DOCUMENT IN FRONT OF HIM, WHICH COBB SIGNS.)
TINSLEY: So … you've gone the way of the bald man. Was that a personal choice or is it just easier to deal with in this kind of atmosphere you're in?
COBB: They don't give you haircuts on a regular basis. Easier to have my head regular clean. Quick and fast, you know?
TINSLEY: I understand. Now they tell me when I came in, they kind of described you as kind of a 'live wire?'
COBB: Who did that?
TINSLEY: One of the guards. I was wondering if you've had some adjustment problems over the years.
COBB: Yeah, this type of atmosphere is really repressive. So they still have qualms about (unintelligible)
TINSLEY: Sure. I guess that's a way to let off steam – to bang your head agains the wall? I notice you have a welt on your head.
COBB: (Laughs) No. No. That's a birthmark.
TINSLEY: I'm sorry. I am so sorry. I apologize, That's the problem when you're hairless like us … You know there was a story … and they mentioned your date was coming up pretty fast.
TINSLEY: And, you know it prompted some (questions)… except for through your appeals, people haven't heard from you or your side of things going on a decade now. I know your lawyer said, 'Don't talk about this, don't talk about this because of the appeals at risk,' but I was wonder if there was something about it you could talk about.
I'll give you an example: I've interviewed a lot of death row folks and they might say 'I apologize to the person but I hate their grandma.' Or 'I apologize to the grandma.' Is there anything along the lines of great or remorse?
COBB: Oh yeah, of course. There's plenty of remorse. The whole situation was, I was 18 at the time. I was very immature. I had a lot of teen angst so just looking back at the whole last year just filled with regret. My life is regret.
TINSLEY: You were on a dark path, you think? A rough path?
COBB: Yeah, but in reference to that situation and everyone involved. Everyone that was hurt. Everyone that was destroyed. What happened, worse. There is a bunch of remorse. I wish I could go back in time and it never would have happened.
TINSLEY: Change it all?
COBB: Yeah, just change it all. Of course.
TINSLEY: I didn't know a lot about the guy who died but they said he was challenged?
COBB: I believe so.
TINSLEY: I was just curious. I guess the women are still out there. The two women, is there anything you would want to say to them, individually or all three? Obviously you can't do that with the first one.
COBB: I mean, I, ah, just hope they've been able to heal. They've found some ability to heal. They're, I'm sure there's a lot of hatred directed toward me and my co-defendant.
COBB: Anger, you know. I just hope they have been able to do that a lot and it has been able to resolve itself over the years.
TINSLEY: Do you know if they will attend your (execution)?
COBB I think they have a right to, you know. I think that also will happen for the family of the victim.
TINSLEY: When your co-defendant went, how did you feel? Was that some sense of closure on your past?
COBB" Whenever he was executed? You know, for me it was rather sad, you know. To see another person being executed by the state sort of long term (unintelligible) effect just generating waves of violence.
TINSLEY: So its a cycle, You wish you could have gone back and ...
COBB: It's continuing violence. I know he had children who are fatherless now. Really fatherless for the past ten years but there is still a lot of hurt. A lot of victims came out of that.
TINSLEY: Let me ask you about: Is your family going to be there when you go?
COBB: I haven't made that decision yet. You mean, the execution?
TINSLEY: I'm trying not to say that word, but yeah.
COBB: Still deciding.
TINSLEY Have you thought about your last meal yet?
COBB: They don't deliver you a last meal. They stopped that.
TINSLEY: So what are you going to eat?
COBB: I don't know. I get the feeling I won't be thinking about food very much. … (unintelligible)
TINSLEY: It sounds like you've picked up on legal stuff, that you've been studying the law.
COBB: Not really. I know enough to know the different (unintelligible)
TINSLEY: Who is representing you? A court appointed attorney?
TINSLEY: At this point, you know, aside from the crime itself and the circumstances that brought you there are there any the regrets in the way of anything that might have led you down this path.
COBB: Of course. There' s plenty but there's this whole path of regret.
TINSLEY: Have you gravitated to religion in any way.
COBB: No, not really. Spiritualism. I think most of it is pretty unanswerable. I mean I guess I like to believe the spirit goes into some other realm or whatever, but I mean that's something I believe but don't dwell on a whole lot."
TINSLEY: I guess as the time nears, I mean, do you have something to accomplish in the next two months.
COBB: (Sighs) You know.
TINSLEY: You're still 28, right?
COBB: Yeah, 28. The youngest one over there right now. Now's not a good time. I'm the young guy and I'm going to be killed off. I accept it, you know what I mean, for what it is. There's not getting away from it, but at the same time like I say, I don't want to die but I'm ready to die.
TINSLEY: Before it happened, before you were connected, when you were 17 or 18, what did you think was ahead of you.
COBB: (Sighs again) I didn't' really have a toehold in life as far as that. I was frustrated being in and out of jail …
TINSLEY: You were in the military?
COBB: I was about to join the military but that got thrown to the wayside when I got convicted of several other felonies. (Unintelligible) better my lot in life. Lots of frustration you know, on that level.
TINSLEY: Along the way did you have any kids?
COBB: No. I made it halfway through high school.
TINSLEY: Oh, you were close.
TINSLEY: Do you feel like maybe things could have gone differently in your trial if you had different representation?
COBB: Yeah, yeah, I think a lot of things could have been done that weren't done. It could have rendered a different decision. There was so much said there that wasn't true.
TINSLEY: Like what?
COBB: Like certain witnesses that testified against me and fabricated. They said stuff that wasn't true. You know it was just kind of frustration. Why did they have to add to it and make a mockery of the system?
TINSLEY? Backlash? Making a dog pile?
COBB: Yeah, trying to validate everything and mention the way (unintelligible)
TINSLEY: You know, if you could go back and hang the outcome from guilty or change the crime you were convicted of, would you do that? Would you knock the charge down a rung or two to get a lesser charge if you could wave a magic wand at it?
COBB: What do you mean?
TINSLEY: Let's say you're back at the trials and instead of cap murder they convict you of something else, not on death row. A lesser charge.
COBB: Of course I would. Because first of all I don't endorse the charge of capital murder. (unintelligible) There are a lot of things that are negative here.
TINSLEY: I'm curious, That tat on your chest: What is it?
COBB: Oh, that's just my name.
TINSLEY. Oh, okay. Did you do it here?
COBB: No I did it when I was 13 years old.
TINSLEY: Tell me more about what you'e been doing. Penpalling?
COBB: Writing letters to mail.
TINSLEY: You're in your cell 23 hours a day?
COBB: I get the option of two hours five days a week and then two days, 24 hours in the cell with the option of a shower.
TINSLEY: You take the shower?
COBB: Yeah, yeah. I shower.
TINSLEY: Usually waking up sets the mood for the day. What happens when you wake up in your cell the way you do?
COBB: The first thing that goes thorough my head when I wake up?
TINSLEY: Usually its just ..
COBB: (INTERUPTS) "WOW! How great it is to wake up in the cold reality of this cell again!"
TINSLEY: Do you communicate with any of your fellow prisoners?
COBB: (Continuing from his previous statement) “Help! Yeah! Help! SOS!”
TINSLEY: Do you communicate with any fellow prisoners?
COBB: Yeah, cell to cell.
((STATIC AND INTERFERENCE WIHT PHONE AND RECORDER))
COBB: Yeah, I have made friends through the years. There's people in there who've been in twice as long as me.