The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Hash ponders readjusting to freedom
BY DONNIE JOHNSTON
Pam Hash broke into tears when special prosecutor Ray Morrogh announced his decision to nolle prosse the murder charge against her son.
“I knew [Michael] was innocent from the very beginning,” she said later. “I told him I was going to fix it but at first I was mad because I couldn’t fix it, couldn’t keep my promise.”
Pam Hash eventually got over being mad and set about seeking ways to get her son out of prison. She took a job with a Richmond lawyer and exchanged, in part, her services for legal fees for Michael.
Then in 2006 she convinced the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project to take up her son’s case.
Michael, too, says that he was also mad in the beginning.
“I never thought I could get put in that position, being accused and convicted of something I didn’t do,” he said after Monday’s hearing. “It really dragged me down for a few years.”
Then Hash said that a friend in prison got him interested in the law and he began studying ways to regain his freedom.
“I wanted to disassemble what they had done against me,” he said.
So, with Pam working from the outside, Michael doing what he could from behind bars and the Innocence Project guiding them in the right direction, a case was built that eventually led to Hash’s freedom.
“I would send him legal documents but [prison rules] would only allow so much in each envelope,” recalled Pam. “I would send envelope after envelope.”
Michael Hash says that he has now gotten over being mad, although there remains a bitterness in his voice when he talks about those who charged him in May of 2000 and helped convict him in January of the following year.
“It was failure on numerous people’s parts,” he said. “I was convicted by the action of Culpeper officials mishandling the case. All I ask is that they be held accountable.”
Hash added that he believes his murder conviction “was probably the result of people who had ulterior motives.”
“Politics played a big part,” his mother added.
So now that he is a free man, what’s next for Hash?
“When I sat in prison I planned out all the things I was going to do when [and if] I got out,” he said. “Now things are a bit more confused. The transition [from prison to civilian life] is slow.”
He says that even eating with a fork, which is not allowed in prison, is a right he no longer takes for granted.
Hash added that “about 95 per cent of outside life” is lost in prison and it takes some time to readjust to freedom.
He said that he would like to travel but acknowledges that this will cost money.
So, now that the prospect of a new trial is not hanging over his head Hash says he plans to start looking for a job, although he admits, “I don’t know what I’ll do.”
He was only 19 when he was arrested.
Pam and Jeff Hash are eager for their son to get on with his new life after a more than 12-year ordeal.
“Right now I’m just enjoying him being home,” Pam said.