By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
Sammy Writes Bull
The Spike loves mail from jail.
In fact, The Spike may now have a complete set of those Sheriff Joe Arpaio postcards he makes available so prisoners can help promote his re-election effort -- Joe playing around in the middle of a pile of puppies, Joe standing tough in front of Tent City, Joe next to a dead camel. (Get it? Joe Camel. Don't sell tobacco to minors, is the message.)
And while The Spike loved the swatch of pink underwear that jailed abortion doctor Brian Finkel sent along a couple years ago, The Spike's new favorite pen pal is accused murderer Sammy Compton, who has failed to heed the old adage: "A person who represents himself has a fool for a client."
Compton, who despite an assigned public defender is filing "pro per" motions like crazy (he refers to the PD as his "2nd Chair,") seems bent on trying his capital murder case in the press, at least in numerous handwritten letters he persists in sending to New Times (all in pencil, of course; no pens allowed in jail.)
One year ago -- on October 16, 2002 -- Cole Bailey Jr. was stomped to death outside a Phoenix bar by, police allege, a group of skinheads that included Sammy Compton. New Times staff writer Susy Buchanan has written much about the Valley's white supremacist movement, a gang of thugs who once counted Compton among their pals. Since his arrest, though, they've all taken to pointing fingers at each other and it was then that Compton began sending his jailhouse missives to New Times, and Buchanan in particular.
In July, Buchanan profiled Cole Bailey Sr., father of the slain young man, who zealously identified and tracked down -- with the help of his own underworld contacts (hey, he's a strip club owner) -- three of the skinheads who are now charged with the murder of his son.
"Skinhead Slayer," as the in-depth piece was titled, drew more then a postcard from Compton. Now, he wants to set the record straight about his involvement in the murder of Cole Bailey Jr. And teach us a little more then we probably want to know about skinhead culture.
"I am writing to answer publicly to the slander that has been done against myself," Compton writes in a recent letter to the editor. (The spelling and grammatical mistakes are his.)
"Recently, in the article Skinhead Slayer, Mr. Cole Bailey Sr. portrayed me as a monster. Stating he could tell I was guilty simply by looking at a picture of me. I think the public should know that in the last 6 months I have maintained that this is a case of mistaken identities, as all the attackers of Cole Baily Jr. looked alike. (Bald heads or tattoos, etc.)
" . . . I never touched Cole Bailey, Jr. I was simply unfortunate to be there that night. A bouncer manhandled my woman and I got into a fight with security, which set off the fight, so I feel terribly sorry for what happened.
"Not all of us are rabid monsters, and I speak for all of us when I say we are overwhelmed by all this. This is America and people are entitiled to have their own political beliefs or idealogies. And we have been demonized by the media and justice systems because our beliefs are unpopular. Nothing that took place on 10/16/02 was motivated racially or politically, but all that is harped on is the fact that we were Skinheads.'
"It is important for people to know while all of us were unagreeable people, shaved heads, tattos, etc. All of us did not beat Cole Baley Jr. It was dark and very chaotic and in my case I was the only person who was well known in the group.
"Once again, I am publicly challenging Cole Bailey Sr., who makes harsh accusations against me publicly, to supply me a polygraph test. If he continues to refuse I would ask that he discontinue his campaign of slander and let the facts come out before he recants events of an incident he did not even witness based on his own intuitions.
"I feel deep sympathy for him, as he lost his son. And I in no way condone the death of his son. I do feel that I am getting a railroad job and feel compelled to defend myself from his slander. I ask the public to think what it would be like to get in a bar fight and the next day be hunted like a wild dog. Knowing you are innocent but being an ex-con, tattooed and called a skinhead' hated by all. And to be thrown in to a cell and given no means of proving your innocence. And a court system that treats your case like a formality.'
"Cole Sr. has spent thousands of dollars on bounty hunters, rewards and media. So if he continues to ignore my request for a $350 lie detector test, where he gets to ask the questions he claims to want the answers to, then I would ask the public to see the truth that this man is on a witch hunt, rather than a crusade for justice for his son. I challenge any of my accusers to supply me this test. I am indigent and unable to afford myself.