It seems that things couldn’t get much worse for Ray Spencer, but they did. His life took on a surreal quality, like a nightmare you cannot wake from. He was unable to bond out after his second arrest. He had no money, no help, and no hope. The detectives that once laid siege to his children now did the same to him. His first wife and the mother of his children, DeAnne, believed him evil. His second wife Shirley was working with the detectives to demoralize and undermine him at every turn. Never ask what else can go wrong. The universe will answer and show you.
Just prior to his second arrest, Ray had cashed out his retirement fund to retain an attorney. The check came after his second arrest. Davidson, along with Ray’s estranged wife Shirley, made several attempts to convince Ray to not only sign the check over to her, but also the deed to their home. The visits became so obnoxious that Ray complained and requested Davidson no longer be allowed to visit him. Ray Spencer never saw that retirement money. The check was cashed, but he never signed it, and it certainly did not pay for a decent lawyer.
Good legal representation is a must. Sadly, Ray didn’t have that. Mere weeks before the trial was scheduled to begin, his lawyer James Rulli decided he needed to interview Ray’s children. He flew to Sacramento with the prosecutor. Yes, that’s right. He went with the prosecutor, and upon their return even more charges were filed against Ray. By this time Ray’s mental health had started to deteriorate and he was unable to assist in his own defense. He trusted that Rulli was working in his best interest and doing his job. In fact, Rulli wasn’t.
Three days before trial, Ray met with James Rulli and discovered that his own lawyer had prepared no defense for him. To this day nobody knows why. The fact remains that Ray Spencer was fixing to walk into the lion’s den with no weapon and no shield. He was heavily medicated by this time due to his deteriorating mental health. Unable to think clearly or understand the consequences of his actions, Ray finally agreed to enter an Alford plea.
An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt. It is accepting that you would most likely be found guilty while still maintaining your innocence. The only benefit that Ray had in entering this plea was saving his children from the spectacle of a trial. Ray was sentenced by Judge Thomas Lodge. He was familiar with Judge Lodge not only from appearances in court during his years as a police officer, but more notably because he had once detained Judge Lodge’s daughter for drag-racing. This didn’t sit well with Judge Lodge at the time. One has to wonder if that played any part in the sentence he handed down. Two life sentences plus 14 years, to run consecutively. As a police officer, it was also ordered that Ray be housed out of state for his own protection.
It took over a year for Ray Spencer to be moved out of state. He was housed in the Washington State Corrections Center in the IMU. This is a maximum security solitary confinement unit. No cellmate, no general population, and an hour a day in the “yard” alone. While not designed to house inmates for any great length of time, Ray was nevertheless kept there for 13 long months. Ostensibly, this was to protect him and keep him alive. The fact that he should have been moved out of state meant nothing by then. He was hidden away and the world hoped he had been forgotten. Luckily, he wasn’t forgotten at all.
Word was getting around about his plight. A few people were starting to realize that he was not the ogre he had been portrayed as. Ultimately, this led to some of the corrections officers reaching out to the federal authorities about Ray’s story. Once the feds were involved, all hell broke loose in the prison administration. Ray was subjected to threats, both veiled and overt by the warden and others. His refusal to cooperate enraged the warden. Up until this point, no other inmates knew that Ray was a former police officer. That was about to change.
If you want to make a name for yourself in prison and gain street cred, the fastest way is to kill a cop. A cop convicted of child molestation would be the coup de grace. Ray felt he had already lost everything, so the threats did not scare him. After all, what else could they take away? The warden won the battle, but lost the war. Not surprisingly, inmates suddenly became aware that Ray was a cop. The warden now had an inmate with a bulls eye painted right on his chest. He had no choice but to move Ray, but he never found out who went to the federal authorities.
Finally, Ray was moved out of Washington and wound up at the Idaho State Correctional Institution. The best part of his stay in Washington had been the reunion with Norma, his first love, and his only true love. As for the rest, he was more than happy to leave it behind. In Idaho he had a little more safety as long as he could keep his identity as a police officer a secret. No police officer is ever truly safe behind bars, though. It’s a constant, pervading fear of discovery that wears on you day after day. Your best bet is to come up with a cover story, stick with it, and pray you ever get called on it. So Ray became a drug smuggler. With his many and varied exposures during his career, he was able to walk the walk, and talk the talk. Fortunately, no other inmate ever questioned his story.
The prison staff did know who Ray was, however. His file was available for any staff member to read up on. Once word got out, it seemed every correctional officer in Idaho wanted to read Ray Spencer’s file. As the warden put it, it read like some kind of Hollywood script. His file became so popular that the warden had a cover letter put in it, advising staff to not discuss Ray where any inmate might overhear. There may have been a few that just believed Ray was a dirty cop, but most realized that there was a lot more to the story. It helps, if even in a small way, to know people don’t see you as the animal you have been portrayed to be.
Ray settled into life in Idaho, figuring on it literally being his life from there on out. He learned about this world that was vastly different than the one he had left. He learned that respect means something different in prison. Then there was the difference between inmates and convicts, and how he landed in the pecking order. He learned to keep his head down, and just do his time. Knowing he couldn’t trust anyone, he stayed to himself, finding ways to pass the time. Reading, working out and weight lifting gave him avenues of escape from the harsh realities of prison life. Without quite realizing it, Ray Spencer was settling in for the long haul.
On the outside, time has a different meaning. For Norma, time meant the number of weeks that passed in between visits to Ray. Ray had begun to accept his fate, but Norma had other ideas entirely. Norma, an ER nurse, began working two jobs to pay lawyers. She wanted Ray out and she wanted his name cleared. Today, it is amazing that Ray Spencer knows who he is. While imprisoned, he’d had to create a persona, and for Norma’s friends and family, they created another one. To them, Ray was an Alaskan fisherman, in port a few days every 6 weeks or so. As far as they knew, Norma flew to Seattle when Ray was in port for romantic weekend getaways.
Ray and Norma married in the prison chapel in 1986. Norma continued to travel between California and Idaho to visit Ray. She also continued to work 2 jobs to pay the legal fees. In 1991, Ray hired Peter Camiel and investigator Paul Henderson. They filed an appeal with the federal court, asking that the conviction be set aside. They were granted a hearing in 1994. This should have been a slam dunk for Ray. His team had discovered that there were medical reports that had not been turned over to the defense. These medical reports were clear. There was no evidence at all of sexual assault. The doctors even testified via telephone, reinforcing these findings. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge explained that he had a conference to attend, but would hand down his ruling upon his return.
At the end of that week, Judge Bryan handed down his decision. There would be no retrial for Ray Spencer.
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