The Judicial Murder of Terri Schindler Schiavo
April 3, 2005 - By Zen Garcia
Numerous unimaginable failures on the part of judicial and law enforcement agencies lead to the eventual murder of Terri Schindler Schiavo. Even though I had followed the case for years and written numerous articles about it, I admit I did not understand fully the forces behind the euthanasia movement based in Florida. I flew to Tampa to join other Not Dead Yet members for an emergency action in support of Terri's right to life and the Schindler family's right to care for her. It was Easter Sunday, 8 of us had left our wheelchairs and laid on the ground blocking off one of the entrance/exits outside of Woodside Hospice as the various news media organizations swarmed around us jockeying for position to lock in best angle to deliver story. For a time, we became the latest breaking news for audiences around the world, who would for moments listen us sharing testimonials, and why it was that we supported Terri and the Schindler's.
I told the crowd that "If any man or woman anywhere in the United States had starved or dehydrated any animal in this way, that there would be huge public outcry and the perpetrators would be locked up for cruel and unusual punishment. We protect even the worse criminals like John Couley from this kind of treatment." I chastised the corporate media for not looking into, why in the first place Terri was in the condition she was in; and only covering the angle that Terri did not want to live in a vegetative state, that it was her choice to be killed this way. Why don't they question the fact that Michael changed his story about the way he found Terri or that when emergency workers came in response to the 9-11 call, they wanted to call the police because it looked like attempted homicide, or that a 1991 bone scan performed by Dr. W. Campbell Walker showed a history of trauma, and listed apparent injuries to the ribs, thoracic vertebrae, both sacroiliac joints, both ankles and both knees. If they looked at all into it, they would find many reasons for Michael to not be Terri's guardian and many reasons for Terri to be cared for by the family that loves her.
Michael Baden, the top forensic pathologist in the country claimed in an interview with Fox News, Terri's condition could not have been caused by a potassium deficiency, "The reason that she's in the state she's in is because there was a period of time, maybe five or eight minutes, when not enough oxygen was going to her brain. That can happen because the heart stops for five or eight minutes, but she had a healthy heart from what we can see. The bone scan describes her having a head injury . . . and head injury can lead to the 'vegetative state' that Mrs. Schiavo is in now", that her injuries are consistent with severe trauma possibly caused by a beating, and that the injuries in medical records warrant an immediate investigation. Dr. William Hammesfahr, Nobel prize nominee and neurologist testified that Terri's neck injuries are consistent with only one type of injury: that of strangulation.- go here:
While outside Woodside hospice, we as Not Dead Yet reminded journalists of the constitutional right to equal citizenship - We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. We did interviews with CNN, MSNBC, The New York times, People magazine, and all of the local affiliates from Florida including broadcast and print news. I personally did interviews with People, Channel 13 news, The St. Petersburg Times, the Spanish and French free press, and others that came up to us after hearing our testimony while on the ground. It was not until I began my own interviews questioning people that I began to understand there was a hidden force at work here that at the time I did not yet understand. When I returned home it was the 12th day that Terri had been deprived of food and water. Knowing she could not last much longer and wanting passionately to do something about it, I began to review all the details of the case, hoping that I could find something to aide her.
It wasn't until Michael won, $250,000 in a malpractice settlement for Terri in August of 1992; and $750,000 for Terri, $300,000 for himself in November of 1992, that he decided to stop all rehabilitation and therapy for Terri. He had testified that he loved Terri and wanted to take care of her for the rest of his life. The settlement was based on Terri needing rehabilitative therapy for the next 50 years. Once it became clear that Terri was not receiving any therapy, Mary and Bob Schindler Sr., consulted with Mark I. Shames about gaining custody of their daughter because of the differing opinions with Michael over her therapy. Shames, who became Sixth Circuit Court judge soon thereafter, inherited their guardianship case, and should have disqualified himself per Florida Code of Judicial Conduct which dictates that a judge is mandated to disqualify himself in a proceeding in which he has personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding and if the judge has served as a lawyer (or been consulted) in the matter in controversy. Shames however did not, and on May 6, 1997, received a letter from Deborah Bushnell urging him to inform the Schindler's of Michael Schiavo's intent to move Terri to a hospice and have her feeding tube removed; stating that the issue of withdrawal or refusal of medical treatment for the ward "is a difficult issue in this case and that the ward's parents will need to be involved".
This should have been a non-issue because Terri was not terminal or in danger of dying, and therefore did not need the services of a hospice, where she would not receive rehabilitative therapy, dental, or gynecological care; besides at that period in time, food and water were not yet deemed "medical treatment." Upon learning of Michael's intent, Shames should have removed him as guardian of Terri for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act - Cf 28 CFR, Ch 1, Subpart B, Sect 35.130, "Nothing in the Act or this part authorizes the representative or guardian of an individual with a disability to decline food, water, medical treatment, or medical services for that individual" and Florida statute 744.474(2 ) requiring that the guardian protect the rights of the ward, provide for her health and safety, properly manage her financial resources and help her regain her abilities to the maximum extent possible.- go here:
But instead of removing Michael as guardian, Shames approved the hiring of George Felos, a known euthanasia advocate/author, chairman of the Hospice of Florida Suncoast board; as Michael's legal counsel, illegally allowing him to be paid from Terri's trust fund, a violation of Florida statute 744.474(2). The weirdness continues as Felos then files a petition before Sixth Circuit Court Judge George Greer in May of 1998, to remove Terri's feeding tube, moving the proceedings all the way to Clearwater, and still at a time when food and hydration through a feeding tube is not considered artificial support. So why would Felos specifically petition George Greer and why would Greer allow Felos to petition for something not even considered a possibility by Florida statutes?
Even stranger to fathom, while the case is pending, on April
6, 1999 - House Bill 2131 was introduced in the legislature by the Florida Elder
Affairs & Long-Term Care Committee to amend Section 765 (Civil Rights) of
the Florida Statutes. Two weeks later, the legislature Committee on Judiciary
recommended that House Bill 2131 should also change the Section 765.101 legal
definition of life prolonging procedures to add: "including artificially
provided sustenance and hydration which sustains, restores or supplants a spontaneous
In October, 1999, a year after the case was filed, led by Senator James King, the Florida Legislature changed Florida law to include assisted feeding to be artificial life support and Greer retroactively applied the law back to 1985 when Michael bases Terri told him she would not want to be kept alive by artificial means. Strange coincidence or did Felos know that somehow the law would be changed, and if he did somehow know, why would such powerful forces including the governor want to side with him on this issue?- go here:
Jan 24, 2000 - Bench trial began to decide whether to remove Terri's feeding tube. Pamela Campbell, represented the Schindler's free of charge after inheriting the case, buying out Shames law practice once he became judge. During the trial she allowed Michael Schiavo to testify about Terri's condition, when only a medically qualified expert should be allowed to render medical opinion, and also allowed him to admit into testimony, hearsay which supports the idea that Terri never wanted to be kept alive in such condition, supported by hearsay from Michael's brother, and sister-in-law. go here:
Once a case is tried and decision made on the merits, it is virtually impossible to have the decision reversed on appeal. Appellate courts review the merits of the case, not the credibility of the witness and thus when Greer ruled that Michael Schiavo's self-serving hearsay testimony was credible that Terri would not want to be kept alive, the die was cast for a denial at every appellate level. In some cases where the verdict is rendered by a jury and trial error has a substantial impact on a case, the appellate court will overturn a jury verdict due to their decision being improperly influenced. However, this does not hold true in the case of a bench trial where the judge is the alleged fact finder and decision maker." Is it again coincidence that Pamela Campbell, who also contributed to Greer, would take the case free of charge and then make the two biggest mistakes, for which denial of every appeal all the way up to the Supreme Court of Florida, and United States, was based upon? Just as suspicious she states, "we do not doubt she's in a permanent vegetative state" allowing many facts presented by Felos, which are now in dispute.
April, 2000, without knowledge or consent of her parents, Michael Schiavo and
George Felos, move Terri illegally from the Palm Gardens Nursing Home where
she had been staying to Woodside Hospice in Pinellas Park, operated by Hospice
of Florida Suncoast. Dr. Victor Gambone, her attending physician at the Palm
Gardens nursing home, refused to sign the certificate of need, testifying under
oath that Terri was healthy and that her move was ordered by Michael Schiavo
and not him. On Feb. 11, 2000, Greer signed the first order authorizing Michael
to remove Terri's feeding tube, ruling that Michael's hearsay testimony had
constituted clear and convincing evidence that Terri would not want to live
'artificially.' On April 24, 2001 her feeding tube was removed.
On April 26, Cindy Shook calls up a radio station and tells them that while dating Michael, he told her "this had destroyed his life and he was being robed of a normal life." And that Terri never spoke to him about advanced directives, "How the hell should I know we never spoke about this, my God I was only 25 years old. How the hell should I know? We were young. We never spoke of this." Schindler attorney Pat Anderson filed an emergency motion claiming Michael Schiavo failed in his duties as a guardian because he did not uphold Florida statute 744.472 (2), that he is an adulterer and has had a child by his mistress, that he spent all of Terri's money in an attempt to kill her rather than rehabilitate her. Terri deserves the right to divorce this adulterer.
Terri has the absolute right to receive necessary services and rehabilitation based upon Florida statute 744.3215, but Michael has confined Terri "to the "death row" of Hospice instead of leaving her in a nursing facility where she would receive the services and rehabilitation required by law. He systematically isolated Terri and deprived her of sensory input, cruelly restricted and prevented visitors of whom he does not approve. He is required by law prepare and present an annual plan under Florida statute 744.3675, however throughout his tenure as guardian, Michael has filed the annual plans late or not at all, and has provided incomplete and inaccurate information, intentionally withheld information concerning Terri's true condition: that she is conscious, aware and can swallow.
The Adult Protective Services Act (Chapter 415 of the Florida
Statutes) affords protection to disabled persons from abuse, neglect and
exploitation, and Terri is entitled to the protections afforded by this law.
Anderson also cites The Wasting, Embezzlement, or Other Mismanagement of the
Ward's Property and the Improper Management of the Ward's Assets - Fla. Stat.
§§ 744.474 (7) and 744.474 (16), Development of a Conflict of Interest
Between the Ward and the Guardian - §744.474 (11), Guilt of an Offense
Prohibited Under Fla. Stat. §§ 435.03 and 744.474 (12), Failure to
Fulfill the Guardianship Education Requirements - . §744.474 (15), and
After Appointment, the Guardian Has Become a Disqualified Person as Set Forth
in Fla. Stat. §§ 744.309 (3) and 744.474 (18) - Pat Anderson 11-15-02
Petition to remove MS as guardian, upon filing of a civil suit by the Schindler's
and upon hearing of new evidence by Cindy Shook, 2nd District Circuit Court
Judge Frank Quesada ordered Terri Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted.
Cindy Shook later testifies that Michael Schiavo had stalked her numerous times and even run her off the road. "One time he was behind me in traffic he got next to me in a two-lane going the same way, and he changed lanes basically right on top of where I was at, and I had to swerve not to be hit. I had to swerve off the road. Michael ran me off the road. I considered it as stalking, dangerous and guessed potentially life threatening." While any unbiased judge would and should have recognized these claims as reasonable to relieve Michael of his guardianship responsibilities, and open an investigation into why Terri was in the state she was in. Greer instead on August 7, 2001, again sides with Michael, ruling he may remove Terri's feeding tube.
On October 15, 2003, Terri's feeding tube is removed. Acting quickly on October 20, The Florida House of Representatives passed "Terri's Law," that allows the governor to issue a "one-time stay in certain cases." On October 21, The Florida Senate passes the bill; then Governor Bush issued an executive order directing reinsertion of Terri's feeding tube and appointment of a guardian ad litem. Shortly after that, Terri's feeding tube is reinserted. It is at this point that something really weird happens- the wording of artificial means of receiving food and hydration somehow becomes just food and hydration. If you look closely at Terri's law, the meaning somehow shifts and while the courts spend the next months battling over the constitutionality of Terri's Law and the separation of powers, the wording of the bill sets-up Judge Greer's illegal February 25th, 2004 order "absent a stay from the appellate courts, the guardian, Michael Schiavo, shall cause the removal of nutrition and hydration from the ward, Theresa Schiavo, at 1 p.m. on Friday, March 18, 2005."
Somehow between the passing of Terri's Law to Judge Greer's February 25th decree, food and water by mouth, became clumped in with food and hydration as supported by a feeding tube. This decree is what caused numerous people even a 10 year old boy to be arrested outside Woodside hospice for trying to take a cup of water to Terri. This is also the order that doomed Terri to die and restricted her family from giving her food by mouth. Michael did not even want to allow Last Rites for fear of Terri receiving nourishment. It also limited the Governor's authority to "a one-time stay in preventing the withholding of nutrition and hydration from a patient."
On March 31,2005, Terri dies at 9:05 a.m. Her body is transported to the Pinellas Country Coroners' Office for an autopsy. On April 2nd, Judge Greer denied a request from a Florida newspaper for summaries of alleged previous investigations conducted by DCF concerning alleged abuse of Terri who sustained serious brain damage as the result of suspicious circumstances in 1990. "In another emerging revelation, another neurologist who examined the timeline of Terri's brain scans found that for the first three days of her initial hospitalization in 1990, her brain scans were normal. Then suddenly, on the sixth day, her brain scan showed evidence of a massive injury. He concludes that Terri was hit on the head and suffered intracranial hemorrhage while in the hospital. The physician maintains that she did not suffer her brain damage outside the hospital but while she was hospitalized."- go here:
Florida statutes expressly prohibit assisted suicide or euthanasia. 765.309 Florida Statute: Mercy Killing of Euthanasia Not Authorized; Suicide Distinguished. -- (1) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to condone, authorize, or approve mercy killing or euthanasia, or to permit any affirmative or deliberate act of omission to end the life other than to permit the natural process of dying. (2) The withholding or withdrawal of life-prolonging procedures from a patient in accordance with any provision of this chapter does not, for any purpose, constitute a suicide. 458.326 Florida Statute: Intractable Pain; Authorized Treatment. -- (4) Nothing in this section shall be construed to condone, authorize, or approve mercy killing or euthanasia, and no treatment authorized by this section may be used for such purpose. 782.08 Florida Statute: Assisting Self-Murder. -- Every person deliberately assisting another in the commission of self-murder shall be guilty of manslaughter, a felony of the second degree, punishable as provided in s.775.082, s. 775.083 or s.775.084.- go here:
With the death of Terri, if left unquestioned Florida will have its first euthanasia case law for all of the other protections to be legally challenged, clearing way for even more euthanasia edicts. Clearly, it seemed to me some powerful force worked against the Schindler's, pushing the extermination of Terri, but what would have the power, money, and influence to push this case past 3 attempts at removing her feeding tube? While interviewing people outside Terri's hospice, a woman told me that I should check into the Church of Scientology, based there in Clearwater, Florida. Not knowing much about Scientology, I placed the comment on the backburner for later research. It was not until I returned to Atlanta that I was able to take a deeper look into Scientology's role in Terri's death. The day that Terri passed away I began my research into Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard, founder of scientology.