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Image by Cara Grobbelaar

About Gary Sutton

"I was only one year old when my father was unjustly taken away. I am 32 years old now and I have a ten year old son that only gets to see his papaw locked away
behind those bars.
I love my dad with my entire heart, and we are as close as we can be
under these circumstances.
I remember when I was four and five years old when my dad was in Mountain City Prison we would go into the art room and he would do paint and crafts with me. He showed me how to mix paint colors and stuff that still sticks with me today in everyday life when I'm doing paint and craft classes. We would also get to take food in to cook on the grills they had there. Those were the best memories me and my dad have together.
He has such a big family that loves him so much. We need him to come home to us.
Our justice system has failed my Dad, and I'm begging anyone who see's this to help in any way you can to prove his innocence."

Casondra Young

"I'm not sure where to even start. As a young child I remember him coming over everyday to see us after work, he'd play with me and my brother.  When we'd leave on a vacation and come back I remember he'd be sitting in our driveway when we pulled in or right behind us so ready and excited to see us, as we were him also. He never missed a birthday or holiday with us.  He used to go with me to the fair every year and ride the rides with me, even though it would make him sick. When I was young I didn't much stay the night with anyone, but I wanted to go spend the night with him. That night turned into a horrible night when his trailer caught fire and spread quickly. He'd got out towards the back as the hallway was on fire, but I was sleeping in the living room. I remember waking up and all surrounding me was on fire, and my uncle Gary busted through that front door and grabbed me just moments before the whole trailer went up in flames. He saved my life that day by risking his own life, but that's the type of man he is. 
Since being in prison he's kept up with writing us, making things for us by whatever he could just so we knew how much he loved us. Tommy was one of his best friends, and Uncle Gary looked out for him always. He'd bring him to our house some and he'd hang out with our family, as Tommy said he could always feel the love there.  
My Uncle Gary is a good person and a man that deserves someone to listen to him and to be treated fairly in this unjustly world we live in. It has literally broken myself and my families heart into pieces him being taken away from us, and I find myself crying all of the time thinking of the life that was unjustly taken away from him and him from us. We need to do better as humans to right the wrongs in our justice system."

Amy King

"I could write a whole book on how crazy I was over my uncle, but also how crazy he was over our family. He definitely loved his family and friends so much. I remember him being there with us always for everything.  He'd come pick me up all the time and take me horseback riding and teach me about horses. Uncle Gary ended up buying me my very own horse, he knew how happy they made me.  

I can't begin to tell you the unimaginable pain he and my family has suffered these past 30 years that he got taken away from us and for something he did not do, that he could've never done. He loved Tommy, we all did. He would bring him over and they'd act like big kids and play cards with us, go sledding with us, ect.  

My sister and I both are grown and have our own kids now and he loves them just as much and they do him also. He's always tried to be as involved as he can from behind those bars.We need him home with us.  Our justice system failed my uncle and we are needing someone's help to prove his innocence."

Justin Sutton

"My name is Diane Sutton and Gary is my brother-in-law. I have been married to his older brother, Jimmy Sutton, for 46 years now. My first Summer in Tennessee, to be with my Dad, was the Summer of 1976. That was when I met Gary. His older brother, Jimmy, stayed at their Mother's house during that summer and watched their younger siblings while she worked. Gary was always with Jimmy. He was only 11 years old when I met him and even at that young age, Gary was an unkempt and pretty worldly young boy. Also, at that young age, Gary was pretty much on his own with Jimmy, who was 17 years old at the time. Their older uncles, on their Mother’s side, would come and pick Gary and Jimmy up. They would take them out drinking all night long and their Mother would never say anything about it. She would just let them come and go as they pleased.


Now Jimmy and Gary are full brothers, sharing the same Mother & Father. When their parents split the boys were much younger. Their Mother moved on, remarrying and having more children. I remember seeing the difference that was made in how their Mother treated Jimmy and Gary compared to three of the younger siblings. Crazy fact, it wasn't until my third summer being in Tennessee that I found out that their Mother had two additional children. I had thought it was just Jimmy, Gary and the three younger siblings by her second marriage.

It was September of '76 when Jimmy and I got married. It wasn't until then that I met Gary and Jimmy's Father. Gary was “living” at his house and the conditions were not good, at all. There was no working bathroom in the house, due to the fact that their Father didn’t want to turn the hot water tank on and didn't want to “waste" water. Their Father had also moved in a woman from Newport County, Tennessee that was known for being a prostitute. She would literally beat Gary every chance she got. There was this one time that Gary had got the last piece of lunch meat, and she went and bit his arm leaving a really bad mark on it. There was hardly ever any food in Gary's "home" and because of that fact, he would have to walk to his grandparents house, just to eat. Then those uncles, from his Mother’s side, would pick Gary up and take him out drinking for days on end.

Now Gary's Father did not like that at all and he didn't want Gary going out with those uncles, but his Father was afraid of one of the uncles in particular. The one time that Gary's Father did actually go to the police, over the uncles taking a very underaged Gary out drinking all hours of the night, the law did nothing to help him. And when that one Uncle caught wind that Gary's Father had contacted the law, he got so mad that he went and broke into Gary's Father’s truck and stole all of his tools. After that his Father felt that his hands were tied in that situation and was scared of what that Uncle might do if it happened again.

When Jimmy, Gary's older brother, and I went to Kansas to live for awhile, Gary had gotten so upset. He would just cry and he wouldn't even eat, so Gary's Father ended up sending Gary to stay with us there. Not that we would have said no, but neither Gary's Father or Mother helped out with any of Gary's expenses. When he got to Kansas he had only one change of clothes. His hair was badly matted with knots, knots that had been there for years, that we had to shave Gary’s head down to his scalp. While with us in Kansas, Gary got regular meals, showers and was able to brush his hair and teeth daily, all things he had never got to have before. That was until we had to move back to Tennessee. Gary went back to “living” at his father's place, and Jimmy and I moved into a building out back behind their Father's house, for a while.

When Gary's Father would leave out for work in the mornings, he would put Gary out of the house. Most mornings Jimmy and I would be up so Gary would come in with us in the building we were staying in. But on the few mornings we were not awake yet, we would wake up to find Gary curled up with our dog inside the dog house so he could keep warm and stay dry. Gary's parents never bought him any clothes, no shoes, not even a coat. His Mother would tell his Father to do it, said she couldn’t do it on account that she had other kids and if you haven't noticed yet, Gary’s Father was a very stingy man. By the time he would get home from work he would already be so drunk. Sadly, the only reason why he even kept Gary to begin with was so he didn't have to pay out Child Support.

When Jimmy and I finally moved from the building we were staying in into a house Gary went with us. He would help Jimmy a lot, cutting wood, hauling off scrap and pretty much whatever else Jimmy would need help with. But when Gary was just 15 years old, his Mother's brother, that one particular Uncle that his Father was afraid of, came and got Gary then took off to Georgia with him to work. They worked on construction sites, where Gary was worked like he was a grown man. That lasted for a couple of months and then Jimmy and I went to Georgia, picked Gary up and brought him back to Tennessee. Gary lived with us, part time, and when he wasn't at our house, Gary would stay in an old camper that was in his Father’s yard. When Gary turned 18 years old, he went and got himself a job working in a lumber yard. Gary was a very hard worker to still be so young.

When Jimmy and I had our two children, Gary was right there with us. Hardly a single day would go by that he wasn't stopping by to see them. I remember when Jimmy and I would take the kids out of town to my Mom's for a holiday, most of the time when we would return, Gary would be parked in our driveway, sitting and waiting for us to get back home. Gary loved our kids and they loved their Uncle Gary, they still do to this day, along with their children as well. Despite the sad truth that Gary did not get to grow up in a clean stable home, forcing him to have to grow up quickly and having him stripped of a childhood, Gary has always had a kind nature to him. And when he had his own daughter, Gary was a very hands on Dad with her and still to this day loves her so much along with the grandson that she has given him.

Aside from the cruel ugly doings that led Gary to an unjust and unfair fate, that then led him to the life he has had to live for the past 30 years, Gary is still a very kind hearted man. A man who has a whole family that he not only loves but that also loves him and misses him being home so much. We all stand behind Gary and know he is truly an innocent man, who was wrongfully convicted and incarcerated.

Diane Sutton

"I am Jimmy Sutton, Gary's older Brother, and when I was only 9 years old and Gary was only 3 years old, our Mom left our Dad. I had got to pick who I was going to stay with and I choose to stay with our Dad, so our Mom took Gary with her. Mom had moved on from Dad quickly and went on to get remarried. When her new husband would get drunk he would be so mean to Gary. Then once our Mom started having other children, she brought Gary back to our Dad and just left him. During that time we lived with our Dad in our Grandparent’s house with them, Gary only 4 years old and me only 10 years old, and I would go out and help on our Grandfather’s farm.

When we moved back to our Dad’s house it was just our Dad, Gary and me, but in reality it was just Gary and me. Our Dad would go to work in the mornings and when he would get off he wouldn’t just come home, instead he went out drinking until real late at night, leaving Gary and me completely alone. We would have to walk to our Grandparent's house just so we could eat. I honestly took care of Gary, the best way I knew how at that young age.

We, Gary and me, never got attention or even time from either one of our parents, as most other children receive. So when our uncles, from our Mom's side, started coming around and paying us attention, I'm sure you could imagine our excitement. They would come and pick us up and take us out riding around, they would let us drive and even let us drink with them. Sadly our Dad couldn't stop it from happening, he was honestly afraid of them. Our Mom never did anything or even said anything to them, all she did was blame it on our Dad. So you see Gary and I were really just on our own. I remember one occasion that Gary had got hurt really bad, I was not there at the time and he needed to go to the hospital. But Gary refused to go to the hospital until I got home to take him. And after my wife, Diane, and I got married, we ended up moving to Kansas one year to live for a while. I had never been that far away from Gary, and when we left Tennessee he had gotten so sad and depressed that all he did was cry and no one could even get him to eat. So our Dad ended up sending Gary to Kansas to live with us.

I can say, I know deep down, in their own way, that our Parents did love us. But our Mother was busy with another family and our Father just liked his drinking and chasing after women too much. Looking back I can never remember a single family outing growing up, not even a trip to the County Fair. Our Dad would go but he never took us, he was really a very stingy person. He never bought us things, he would only give us stuff that other people would give to him to give to us. I would have to help our Grandfather out in the hay and tobacco fields just to make money so I could buy my own clothes. We really just never had a real childhood and I guess that was a huge reason as to why we would go off with our uncles. They did pay us attention. Unfortunately as kids we didn't know any better to understand that it was the wrong kind of attention, we just knew it was at least some.

Until I got married to Diane, Gary and I truly only had each other. And when Diane and I started having kids, making our own family, Gary was always a part of that as well. I guess you could say I was not only Gary's Big Brother, but I was a Father and a Mother to him as well, despite being only a child myself.

Jimmy Sutton

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