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.
“My last day of freedom was just a bad day in that life—one of those days when everything went wrong,” Gideon later wrote. “I was on every TV channel every 10 minutes.”
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. “I found Jesus Christ, and He gives me the peace and comfort of knowing I’ll spend forever with Him in heaven when this life is over and my debt here is paid,” Gideon said.
Gideon spends much of his time watching TV and reading. He holds a job emptying trash cans at the prison, but his wages are meager. He earns 25 cents per hour.
Gideon hopes others can learn from his mistakes. “I never had any goals, so my advice for you is to set some and take the helping hands of those that love you and are reaching out to help you,” he said. “My story is self-explanatory. Be very careful of the footsteps you follow—because they lead to the life you will have.”