Wrongfully Convicted Veteran Christopher J. Carlisle and his Road Home

By Marvin S. Littky, National Vice President, UVS

Christopher J. Carlisle, a 59 year old U.S. Air Force Veteran was trained as a medic and dental assistant while in the military. After his honorable discharge, he attended the Jackson Memorial Hospital School of Nursing, in Miami, Florida, earning his diploma with honors as a Registered Nurse.

He has been married for 24 years, has one adopted son and he and his wife were blessed with triplets shortly thereafter. His family includes four brothers, three sisters-in-law, many nieces and nephews and his mother, all of whom live in Florida.

In 2009, while living in Vero Beach Florida, he was falsely accused of a crime in which the alleged victim recanted her testimony eleven (11) times to various police officers and social workers prior to the trial. At his trial, the Circuit Judge refused to allow cross examination of this witness, which resulted in Carlisle being found guilty and sentenced to fifteen (15) years in prison.

While in prison, Carlisle wrote, filed, and won his own Petition and Motion for a Belated Appeal. At that point, Paul Petillo, hief of the Appellate Division and his team at the Fourth District Court of Appeals in West Palm Beach, FL filed their Appellate Brief and won the actual Appeal, granting Chris a new trial after four years in prison.

The Appellate Court reversed the prior conviction of Carlisle, stating it was reversible error for the Trial Judge to not allow the State's chief complaining witness to be cross-examined by Carlisle's attorney after she had recanted her testimony so many times. The Court opined that the credibility of that witness was questionable at best.

On May 1st, 2015, in the same courtroom, before the same Judge, and after being imprisoned in the Indian River County Jail for an additional year awaiting his new trial, Christopher Carlisle was found not guilty by a jury of his peers.

While Carlisle was imprisoned, he was active in the new Veteran's Dorm at his prison facility. The philosophy of having Veteran's Dorms in various prisons is a fairly new concept, in that it is well known and understood that veterans relate more easily to one another, and their time served would be much more productive in that atmosphere.

United Veterans Services (UVS), with their mission being donating to veterans in need in VA Medical Centers all across the country, made a generous donation to this Veteran's Dorm through the Malcom Randall VA Medical Centerin Gainesville, Florida. This was the VA Medical Center that assigned their social workers to counsel and work with the incarcerated veterans in the Veterans Dorm at Wakulla Correctional, where Carlisle was imprisoned.

I "met" Chris Carlisle through a letter he wrote to UVS, thanking us for our donation. He requested that the funds go to the purchase of certain educational tools that would assist him and other inmates who were instructors teaching classes to other veterans in prison.

I was very moved by this request, since most other requests in this situation were for sports equipment, new TVs, games, etc. I made a promise to myself that if Carlisle was granted a new trial, I wanted to meet him personally. When he was granted a new trial and transferred back to Vero Beach to await the new trial, I started visiting with Carlisle and mentoring him every other week.

I want to acknowledge and publicly thank Ms. Karen Israel, the VA Re­Entry Veteran Specialist at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville, Florida. Without her patience and perseverance, this donation from UVS to the Veterans Dorm would have never become a reality, and we would have never known about veteran Chris Carlisle.

Karen, the entire Carlisle Family and the entire United Veterans Services Family are eternally grateful for all of your help, not only for this veteran, but for all of the incarcerated veterans that have benefited in the past, and will continue to benefit in the future by receiving your counsel, comfort, and professionalism as you visit the various prisons in your area.

I wanted to share the joyous Carlisle Family Photo with you, and also share a beautiful, heartfelt personal note of thanks and appreciation sent to me and the United Veterans Services by Chris' brother, Bart Carlisle.

"Mother's Day" & "Welcome Home, Chris" Celebration

This family photo was taken at a joint Mother's Day / "Welcome Home, Chris" celebration in Miami. Chris is in the back row, third from the left, wearing glasses. Seeing the happy, smiling, joyous feeling on the faces of the Carlisle family expresses the sense of accomplishment and success that the United Veterans Services volunteers feel on a daily basis as they work with veterans all across the country.

This family photo was taken at a joint Mother's Day / "Welcome Home, Chris" celebration in Miami. Chris is in the back row, third from the left, wearing glasses. Seeing the happy, smiling, joyous feeling on the faces of the Carlisle family expresses the sense of accomplishment and success that the United Veterans Services volunteers feel on a daily basis as they work with veterans all across the country.

"Letter From Bart Carlisle" May 16th, 2015

Marv,

Just a short note to offer my family (and my) eternal thanks for your unfailing friendship, legal advice and general diligence helping Chris and the rest of us. I had related to you earlier about how it brought a tear to my eye and a lump in my throat to hear from Chris upon his first day as a free man.

The past few weeks are a testament to brother Christopher's diligence toward restoring a semblance of order to life after incarceration the past five or six years, He has put in applications, resumes in most of the local businesses, and has obtained his license to drive to enable a proper job search even after cleaning up the homestead due to years of benign neglect while putting a fresh perspective on being a father ( and husband) to his family. He is keeping busy and is still in high spirits and has high hopes for the future thanks to you and Miss Butler.

We had a family reunion this past Mother's Day along with brother Kevin's birthday, nephew Alexander Jack and Abigail's birthdays and a general "Welcome Home" to Brother Chris! You could say a good time was had by all.

Alice and I feel as does the rest of the family that you are an "Honorary" Carlisle entitled to all pomp and circumstance due a person of such high esteem! You are truly a "Mensch" and may God bless you, your wife and family. If you ever need anything, Alice and I will be glad to help.

Lt. Bartholomew J. Carlisle
Miami Dade Fire Rescue
1608 Madison Street
Hollywood, Fl. 33020