Still Waiting

When my habeas corpus petition was before the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the oral arguments hearing was held July 6, 2015. Just over 3 months later on October 25, 2016, the Ninth Circuit Court issued their ruling ordering an Evidentiary Hearing to be held. In the Ninth Circuit’s ruling they stated, “O’Brien’s state habeas petition alleged facts that, if accepted as true, showed that trial counsel failed to introduce available evidence that would have significantly strengthened O’Brien’s defense. Indeed, if believed, the additional evidence would have rendered it virtually impossible for O’Brien to have committed the murder with which he was charged.” and “Competent counsel would not have failed to put such evidence before the jury.”

Based on this ruling there was hope I may have my rightful freedom restored within months; that I would soon be home. Then the reality of our broken legal system sank in.

The Evidentiary Hearing was not held until January 17 and 18, 2017; over a year after the Ninth Circuit’s ruling. My case always seems to be plagued with one delay or another; continuously dragging out the fight for my freedom.

For example, at the conclusion of the Evidentiary Hearing, the Magistrate unexpectedly ordered my lawyers and the Attorney General’s office to provide additional briefs. My lawyers did not expect that and told me it’s almost unheard of to have additional briefs after an Evidentiary Hearing. Briefs had already been filed before the hearing. The evidence was produced at the hearing. The additional briefs took 9 months for the last one to be filed. There were several extensions requested on filing deadlines for the briefs, prolonging my wrongful incarceration.

On September 20, 2017, the last brief was filed. We are still waiting for the Magistrate’s ruling over one year later. It is now October 2018 and I am coming up on 16 years of being wrongfully incarcerated. It has been over 3 years since the Ninth Circuit’s ruling stating that the evidence makes it virtually impossible for me to be involved in the crime. I am innocent and we proved that with the evidence at the Evidentiary Hearing 21 months ago.

The waiting feels endless. No one knows when the waiting will end or when the Magistrate will issue her ruling. All that can be done is to wait and pray.

Thank you all for your support and prayers.

-Sean October 8, 2018

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Sean’s original writing:

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That time we went to a pizza place….just kidding!


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Family Visit 8: True Colors

Sean and I had our 8th Family Visit September 22-24 2018.

Family Visiting seems separated from the rest of the world, and it is. It feels cut off from everything, sort of like being aware while dreaming. Maybe it’s because of the rules, or the lack of cell phones, maybe it’s the sleep deprivation or a combination of these. It feels so different than my typical day to day life. There is nothing that has to get done, no places to go, no one bothers us or wants anything from us besides when Sean has to do count. Apart from counts and cleaning, we don’t need to do anything but enjoy our time together. That is an unfamiliar feeling for both of us because we are so used to busy important roles, responsibilities and task filled days. There are also the weeks in between, so that when we are together I have to keep reminding myself that it is really happening. It is an amazing feeling, one that we both wish would last much longer than 46 hours. Prison is just so different, so far removed from the outside world that trying to describe it is impossible.

Our time together was real. I was super tired both from waking up at 3 am and the long hours at my new job. Sean took on the task of cleaning the unit for us, disinfecting surfaces, unpacking our belongings, making our tea and getting the food set up while I rested. He really stepped up for me and did most of our cooking and all of our cleaning.

We got to watch some movies, including ‘Trolls’, which is a recent favorite. Almost all of the DVDs available for Family Visit are children’s movies but luckily this one is really good. We enjoy the humor, songs, and Sean says I brought his colors back like Poppy did for Branch. “I see your true colors.

On Monday morning Sean got up for the 5 am count and when he came back I went back to sleep while he began getting us ready for departure. All of a sudden, I was awakened by a strange and unexpected sound. Once out of the sleepy fog, I realized it was Sean. Alarmed, I ran to the bathroom. He was pale, throwing up in the toilet, and the water in the sink was running full blast. Concerned, I sat on the edge of the bathtub next to him, rubbing my hand over his back. Why was I so shocked you may ask. For starters Sean is almost never sick, in the 5 years we have been together he has only had a cold twice. Plus, he had been feeling completely fine up to this point in our visit and I have never seen him throw up before, so it was the last thing I had expected to happen. I felt really bad that he was experiencing this now, during our last few hours together. He explained how it happened, and we think he was just too full from eating the “normal” food. “Poor Honey Bear” I said, handing him a cold bottle of water.

It was good to have a chance to be there for my husband when he needed me. We rarely have this opportunity which hurts both of us. We want so badly to be able to comfort and help each other, but sadly our situation doesn’t allow many chances for that to happen.

Most of the time when either of us is sick or hurting, we have no choice but to continue on alone and just do the best we can.  There is no one to help us, we go to work and have duties that cannot go undone.  Its is hard, but it generally goes unnoticed because there is nothing we can do about it and the rest of the world seems like it couldn’t be bothered. But this Family Visit, we got to be there for each other and it felt good.

Thank you for reading. Comments/ Questions?  Find us on Twitter @EmeliaO’Brien12, Facebook,Instagram & GoFundMe

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Exciting news, we are now on Twitter @EmeliaO’Brien12 & Instagram. We also have a public group page on Facebook, and have created a GoFundMe page for Sean’s support team. Anyone who wishes to connect with us, please do! Thanks everyone. 



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The Dresser Project

After acquiring some clothing for Sean to wear at Family Visiting, I needed a place to store them. I also felt like I wanted to have a dresser for him when he comes home, with the clothes that he already knows inside it. But I didn’t want to go out and pay for a brand new good quality dresser and they are quite hard to find second hand around here. So I decided to leave it up to fate.

Then one day in January I was walking our dog the same route I normally go, not paying any attention, he pulled me clear across the street to bring me to a discarded old dresser on the sidewalk. It looked OK, kind of beat up and forlorn looking. It was, however, quite sturdy; build of solid wood. So it had good bones and I thought maybe with a little love it could serve it’s purpose again. I managed to fit it into my car and brought it home.

A few days later I stared at it seemingly waiting for me outside. It needed some work and I wondered if perhaps I had bitten off more than I can chew. Luckily my neighbor friend gave me some pointers and let me borrow some tools. So I set to work putting a lot of care and time into making it special for Sean.

Step 1. Peel off the contact paper The drawers were lined with outdated contact paper. Some parts were difficult to get up and some parts came up in huge satisfying strips. Underneath the wood was nice.

Step 2. Sanding I had never sanded anything this large before. It was a fair amount of work. I took it in stages, working on it in pieces. Sometimes I sanded it at night after work with my earbuds to drown out the noise. I only did this part of the project to get rid of most of the layers of old varnish and paint, not to strip it down completely.

Step 3. Wash it down with soap and water Luckily the dry winter air dried out the wood again quickly.

Step 4. Paint! I put this stage of the project off for several months, by this time it was late summer, but luckily we had perfect weather for painting. I started with 2 coats of white primer for the base using a cheap roller and 2″ brush, followed by 2 coats of Behr dark gray paint. I enjoy painting so this part of the project was fun to do.

Step 5. Sand to create a distressed look The dresser was already distressed to begin with, it has lots of little nicks and bumps that are perfect for this style. All I had to do was sand off some of the black paint before it cured to allow the white layer to show through. Ta-da! The thing I love about this look is it’s not difficult to achieve with a reasonable budget and simple know-how, even for someone inexperienced like me.

Step 6. Hardware A good friend brought over a drill and showed me how to use it to make the holes needed for the knobs. I drilled almost all the holes myself and installed the knobs I had picked out.

Step 7. Liner Paper I found some really cool black and white newsprint paper I wanted to use to give the insides a really uniform look. I thought it was a nice touch and tied the whole piece together.






I ended up with something I am really proud of. It’s a piece I know we will enjoy for years to come, all for a fraction of the cost of a new dresser and much more unique. I learned about fixing up old furniture along the way, its really fun.  The dresser is a meaningful gift for Sean and one he knows I put a lot of love into making just for him.

Thank you to our friends who helped make this dresser project possible with borrowed tools, knowledge and advice! Much love

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Family Visit 7: One Year Wedding Anniversary

 Drawing by Emelia, colored by Sean

August 11, 2018 was beginning of our most recent Family Visit at Corcoran State Prison. The following day was our one year wedding anniversary. Sean and I felt incredibly lucky to get to celebrate our special day together, it was purely chance that we even got that date because we have no control over that. It was incredibly special to get to spend the entire day together on our anniversary and not have to say goodbye the entire time. From the moment we awoke until the time we fell asleep it was just us. And then of course we were awakened by the count time calls, but if that’s just what we have to do in order to get quality time together.

Our special day was spent doing what we love best at Family Visit. We did a lot of cooking because that’s something we enjoy doing together. He absolutely loves the meat & cheese sandwiches I grill for him and I love the scrambled eggs he makes.  We baked our cookies and this time used vanilla ice cream from the vending machines to make ice cream sandwiches!  The radio is always on while we cook and eat, we like singing or dancing when a good song comes on. We enjoy helping each other with typical daily tasks that for us are usually spent alone, simple things that you wouldn’t really think about like brushing your teeth or cleaning up. We watched 2 DVDs including our current favorite: Wall-E. We didn’t spend much time outside because of the poor air quality from the big fires but we had a great time indoors, lots of happy memories to hold onto.

Then came our tearful goodbye. I can honestly say that having to leave Sean after Family Visit is the hardest thing I ever have to do.  It feels like I am leaving a part of my body behind, because I am not whole without him. When I got into my car with no choice but to drive away  it felt like a slow suffocation. When I see the pain and sadness in his eyes as our fingers reach each others through the chain link fence and we kiss one last time, I feel like I am literally leaving a piece of my heart behind.

We are so grateful for the life we have; despite the pain and fear that comes from his wrongful conviction, being kept apart, and an uncertain future. Our love is the greatest blessing, we tell each other honestly every day how happy we are to be married. I am proud to be his wife and he tells me all the time that being my husband is his greatest honor. Our Family Visits are so special and we are grateful for the time we get together. It was only a year ago that this was given to us and it has completely changed our lives.

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 COR 5:7

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Anniversary Drawing Gift

For our one year wedding anniversary Sean drew a picture of me. He rarely draws people and this is the first time he’s drawn me. I love it. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have such a talented loving husband.

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