None of those men, including Grandison, has been executed, Levitz said. Instead, he has seen the appeals process extend cases for many years.
“The most difficult part of it,” he said, “was dealing with the effect it had on innocent people, the effect it had on victims’ families and the effect it had on the defendants’ families.”
These days, Grandison, Evans and the other three condemned men are housed in a maximum-security prison in Cumberland. It is one of the few facilities in the nation where death-row inmates live among the general population, said Warden Bobby P. Shearin. At the prison, where 1,000 of the 1,400 inmates are serving life sentences, those on death row have their own cells, but otherwise, they walk the same beige halls as everyone else and follow the same meal schedule: breakfast at 4 a.m, dinner at 3:30 p.m. Officials denied a request from The Post to interview death-row inmates, but in a letter to The Post, Evans described the prison as a place where decent food is scarce — “I have learned to love peanut butter, sardines and beans from the commissary” — and where he and the others on death row share a tier with mentally ill inmates. “So just imagine loud noises,” he writes. “Men getting mace. Men being drag out their cells. Men playing in their waste.”
“A man on death row in the State of Maryland has to have a strong will within and a God to have faith in.”
James McEachin, a pastor who grew up with Evans, describes him as an intelligent man who fell into drugs early. But he is not a killer, said McEachin, who thinks that someone other than Evans was the shooter. Over the years, Evans’s supporters have picketed, spoken to lawmakers and at one point formed the Committee to Save Vernon Evans.
Evans has spoken by phone to area college students through a program called Live from Death Row. At one point, Evans’s words appeared on a blog titled “Meet Vernon.” In 2006, he received a stay 11 hours before he was to be executed.
McEachin said he has visited Evans on death row and prayed through “plexiglass that has got to be at least six inches thick.”
In his letter, Evans describes transferring from one prison to another — and from state to state — over the years, each with its own set of challenges. In one, he says, he had to walk with his hand over his heart because “Cubans were wanting to get a murder charge just to stay in the country.” In another, he was stabbed seven times by a man he was teaching to read.