Gideon Walletsky: a troubled life

Gideon Walletsky is serving a life sentence without parole for first-degree murder. No, Gideon is not his real name. Yes, the stories and accounts you read here are true.

Gideon murdered the owner of a gas station during a robbery in 1996. He held the store owner and his wife at gun point and demanded they hand over the money in the cash register. Gideon, who was strung out on drugs, thought the cling of the register was the cocking of a gun, so he shot the store owner. Gideon fled the scene with around $100.

After shooting the store owner, Gideon took off in his pickup before wrecking the vehicle. He later stole a car, which allowed him to evade police until the next morning. That night proved to be his last as a free man. He was arrested the next day while leaving a motel.

Prosecutors made it clear they would seek the death penalty, so Gideon agreed to spend the rest of his days in prison, with no chance of ever being free. The store owner’s widow, who watched her husband die, preferred a life sentence to years of appeals and a potential reversal of a death penalty sentence.

Gideon’s time in prison has been marked by drug use, fights, and disciplinary issues. He has burned through thousands of dollars by popping pills, shooting up, and smoking cigarettes. His many fights have resulted in numerous stays in the hole and transfers to different prisons. He once kicked another inmate down a flight of stairs in self-defense, fracturing the man’s skull and sending him to the hospital.

In recent years, Gideon has tried to stay away from drugs and violence, but he hasn’t always been successful. He prays often and attends church services regularly. His daughter often admonishes him to “be good.” He spends much of his time watching TV and reading. Gideon holds a job emptying trash cans at the prison, but his wages are meager. He earns 25 cents per hour.

Gideon suffers from an undiagnosed problem with his leg that causes pain and a severe limp. The prison system refuses to treat the issue (presumably because of medical costs) and provides mild pain relievers instead of treatment. He also has untreated hepatitis C and a host of dental issues.

Gideon has two daughters and an estranged son. His daughters visit him regularly, and his mother goes to see him every Saturday morning. He currently resides in a prison close to his family, which makes visits and correspondence easier.

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