Archive for January, 2020

Free Kevin Bromwell #

January 30, 2020 Leave a comment

For a little more than a year I have been working to help free Kevin Bromwell. Kevin has served 32 years for a crime I do not believe he committed. Below is the content of a letter I wrote to Missouri Governor Mike Parson. The letter explains my long history with the Bromwell family and why I believe Kevin should have his sentence commuted. At the bottom of this post I will include the Governor’s office contact information. Kevin’s request for clemency has gone unresponded for over five years. My repeated communications with the Governor’s office have been ignored. We will need a groundswell of support to give Kevin’s clemency request a fair hearing. I will also include Kevin’s address in case anyone cares to write him. He is bored shitless and could use more outside contact. If you could share this information widely in any format I would appreciate it. I know Kevin would as well.

December 2, 2019

Dear Governor Parson or his designee,

I am writing in support of a clemency request for a commutation of sentence for Mr. Kevin Bromwell #181047. Mr. Bromwell’s brother Reese is a constituent of mine who requested my assistance in advocating for his brother’s release. Kevin has served 32 years of 3 consecutive 30-year sentences for second degree homicide, burglary and arson. Irregularities in the case, the number of years already served and the pressing need of his family for his speedy release compel me to make this urgent request.

I have known Reese Bromwell for many years. I spent a 10-year career with Phoenix Programs, Columbia’s premier substance use disorder treatment center as a counselor, manager and ultimately executive director. Reese is a person in long term recovery from alcohol and because of my position shared details of his growing up with child abuse and neglect in an unstable family in inner-city St. Louis. Reese and most of his siblings had abused drugs and alcohol and had ongoing legal trouble. Reese got into recovery at Phoenix and had a desire to return and tell his story.

I further learned about Reese’s family and his character when Reese’s sister Tina was released from prison. Tina’s home plan brought her to live with Reese and he was a great support to Tina as she had adjustment issues from long term incarceration and trauma recovery. She found employment and worked for several years with stability until becoming disabled.

My relationship with the Bromwell’s deepened when another brother Donnie broke his neck in an accident could not care for himself and was trapped in a nursing home. I worked with the family to secure disabled housing so the three adult siblings could live together and support one another. I helped Donnie come to terms with becoming a quadriplegic and the family provided his home care. I came to admire this family who had come through so much adversity with a fierce desire to take care of each other and be successful.

After Donnie passed away of natural causes Reese told me about his brother Kevin and requested my assistance. I agreed to look into the situation and see if there was anything I could do. I spoke to Kevin by phone and made a trip to Licking Missouri to visit Kevin in the South Central Correctional Center.

I heard Kevin’s story and it had the ring of truth. I am a Certified Co-Occurring Disorders Professional through the Missouri Credentialing Board and have long experience with criminal justice involved individuals. I administered Phoenix Programs primary re-entry programming for many years and have worked with countless offenders and ex-offenders. Kevin struck me as sincere and his story plausible. I do not believe that Kevin poses a threat to society.

I have reviewed affidavits and records that are part of the clemency petition. I have been corresponding with Kevin and speaking with him regularly on the phone. I have come to know another sibling Pastor Larry Booth. Pastor Booth is also convinced of his brother’s innocence and has confirmed the facts of the matter as told to me by Kevin. A brief summary of the facts are as follows:

On May 16th, 1988 a terrible crime occurred. A woman was murdered, and her apartment set ablaze during a burglary. Later that night Kevin Bromwell was arrested on an unrelated charge. Kevin had been heavily drinking in the company of numerous witnesses. Three participants in the crime were arrested and they identified Kevin as the murderer, two of them testifying in his trial. All received minimal sentences and served less than five years.

Kevin has maintained his innocence for the 32 years he has served after being convicted and sentenced for 30 years to be served consecutively for Second-Degree Murder, First-Degree Burglary and First-Degree Arson. Kevin Bromwell (#181047) who is now 60 will not be eligible for parole for another 62 years.

Kevin’s attorney refused to call exculpatory witnesses and conceded his presence at the crime scene against Kevin’s expressed wishes. She did not challenge the serious issues with evidence tampering and police brutality. Kevin lost his appeal regarding ineffective assistance of trial counsel when his attorney at the time presented no evidence. Kevin has been filing habeas corpus petitions pro se which have all been dismissed without prejudice.

We are requesting a close examination of Kevin Bromwell’s clemency petition to the governor. He filed an Amended Application for Executive Clemency on 2/25/2018. He has a brother and a sister who are in poor health who requested assistance so that they might spend some time with their brother outside of prison. Kevin has made the best use of his time possible and has completed self-improvement classes and works hard on the prison garden.

There are six key facts that demonstrate there is not reasonable confidence in Kevin Bromwell’s conviction:

  1. A new witness proves Kevin Bromwell is innocent. The enclosed affidavit of Lewis Watkins, who as a boy witnessed the crime, swears that Kevin was not there. This affidavit is new evidence.
  2. Kevin’s clothing was taken by police back to the crime scene. When initially arrested, no blood of any consequence was noted on his clothing except a small amount on his right shoe from a fight earlier in the day. Subsequently the clothing was taken back to the crime scene by the police and then later when trial counsel examined the clothing it was covered in blood.
  3. Kevin had no stolen items on his person when arrested. As substantiated by police reports, there were no stolen items on Kevin’s person on the first police report when he was arrested. However, subsequent police reports mention stolen items that were on his person when arrested. The items mysteriously appear as part of the State’s case.
  4. Kevin was in no shape to commit the crime. Kevin had received an SSI check that day and had no need to commit burglary. As many witnesses will testify, Kevin was so intoxicated that night that he was staggering drunk and could barely walk much less commit a crime.
  5. The victim’s door was not kicked in as testified by witnesses against Kevin. Two of the individuals involved in the crime knew the victim and Kevin did not. The Fire Marshall’s report stated the door was in the unlocked position and not kicked in.
  6. Kevin had an alibi which trial counsel refused to use. Trial counsel’s strategy was to admit guilt and go for a conviction on a lesser charge then first-degree murder. Kevin wanted to maintain his innocence and go for a not guilty verdict at his trial. Trial counsel refused to do so.

Kevin has been filing appeals and habeas corpus petitions pro se. He has exhausted his appeals and his habeas corpus petitions have thus far been rejected without prejudice. There is no evidence they have been given serious consideration.

A commutation of sentence would be most appropriate because it would allow a quick unification of the family. Both Reese and Tina Bromwell have COPD. Reese has been off work for weeks and Tina is disabled. The siblings would serve as both recovery supports for Kevin and could use his assistance. I would pledge my own efforts to support Kevin Bromwell’s transition to the community. I would provide case management support to link him with needed services and assist him in finding full time employment.

With all of the time that has passed since this crime has been committed we may never know definitively what happened that night and who was involved. We do know that Kevin Bromwell has served 32 years for the crime while the other participants were given probation. By running the three-year sentences concurrently an acknowledgement of the trial irregularities can be acknowledged without a risk to public safety. Kevin has strong family and community supports. Please consider this modest request to help a family that has survived much hardship by pulling together and taking care of each other.


Michael A. Trapp, MA, CCDP

Second Ward City Council Member, City of Columbia

Principal, AAAAChange, LLC (4-A-Change)

Here is a link to the Governor’s office for respectful requests for Kevin’s clemency petition to be granted, or at least considered thoughtfully with an examination of the evidence.

His contact info is:

Office of Governor Michael L. Parson

P.O. Box 720
Jefferson City, MO 65102

Phone: (573) 751-3222
Fax: (573) 751-1495

To write Kevin:

Kevin Bromwell #181047


South Central Correctional Center

255 West Highway 32

Licking, MO 65542



Categories: politics, Prison


January 29, 2020 Leave a comment

It’s been a good month, productive and a lot of weather. I have been an every day bicycle commuter since early summer. I’m old enough where I’m not really in to riding in the snow. I did once because I hadn’t ridden in a couple of weeks and I didn’t want to lose capacity.

It was slushy and I confirmed why I wasn’t doing much of that though it wasn’t terrible. The piled snow eliminates some bike lane but not unacceptably. It was mostly the accumulated slush on the pedway on Providence Road.

On Mondays I’m a regular guest on a right wing radio station. I talk about local issues and mix it up with the host. It’s fun and a nice 5 mile ride. I kept to surface streets but on the way home I took the trail which was plowed and very pretty with the snowy woods.

Mostly I walk. Today I walked to my Consulting gig. About 45 minutes up arterials and state highway. Even so it’s beautiful in the falling snow. I wore my brimmed hat with ear muffs and picked a good outfit for the weather. That’s the secret, too warm and your sweaty. Not particularly business appropriate and makes for a cold walk home.

I took some cut through streets and checked out the power plant. It was steamy and a little surreal. A utilities supervisor offered me a ride but I didn’t think he was heading my way and I had the time and I was enjoying the walk. Third time I’ve been offered a rise this winter and the first time I’ve been able to waive it off. People don’t expect to see a City Councilperson walking in the weather.

It’s mostly made me feel blessed. When I visited Columbia in 1993 and decided to move here I could see my life. Walking and biking everywhere, good friends, being a bit of a random force for good, more cool things then I care to do. Blessed to be living the good life. I shared this thought with my brother John. He said Epicerus said “remember everything you have is something you once wanted”.

It’s been a productive month. Good consulting hours, I did a training on domestic violence with another agency, a bit of homeless outreach as well. Also wrote an article on homelessness for Missouri Municipal League magazine that I think is good. Did a de-escalation training for the inclement weather shelter, had a dinner party and my friend in prison. Lots of other stuff as well.

Categories: Uncategorized

Decade Letter

January 23, 2020 Leave a comment

Badger Johnson published a holiday letter style decade recap that I enjoyed very much. I’d been thinking about returning to my annual holiday letter post and since I have a lot of missing time in my blog this last decade I’d try my hand at a decade recap.

I scrolled back to my 2010 recap. I enjoyed reading and seeing how much I’ve forgotten or placed in another time.

The last decade began with me living with Dad, his sickly little dog Myrtle and Oni, a piss hound a homeless guy foisted on us at the Leslie Lane Family Living Center. I was a counselor at Phoenix Programs leading our co-occurring efforts, gardening and cooking and a little melancholic.

I took an epic road trip with John and his dogs to the Everglades and points in between. Awesome trip but I also pinched a nerve and lost the use of my right arm for a while which was a project coming back from. Activated the power of gratitude for the first time.

Myrtle had a heart condition and passed away that summer. Oni pissed my bed one to many times and Dad took her to the pound when I griped about it. We filled our dog shaped hole shortly after with a 4 month old bichon frise’/Cocker spaniel hybrid Dad named Fido.

Fido was Dad’s dog and followed him around. Dad gave him the patience and love he had grown into in his 70s which both made me a little jealous and a little awed to see. Fido is a timid fellow and he had a scared look in his eye for me after I grabbed him up for kitchen pissing once. He never looked at Dad that way as he was slow and gentle and kind. Always.

I liked living with Dad. He came to appreciate and respect me for who I was without me having to change and whoever gets that? I was never a master of the manly arts but living by work and not having a lot going on I became an object of study. One time he said “You know Mick. I’ve been watching you and I see you live for other people. I don’t do that.” What a gift.

Dad had COPD and in Spring of 2011 I took him to Boone Hospital for what I thought would be a breathing treatment but they admitted him. That night he was on a respirator in an induced coma. They woke him up to see if he could breathe without the respirator. He couldn’t. “Breathe or die” he said.

That was hard. I had centered my whole life around him. My family had come in to town but after Betty and Bill left after going out to dinner I came home and said “we’ll Fido, this is all there is now”.

Fido and I were not long on our own as shortly thereafter a former Columbian returned to town when he split with his wife and I rented him a room. I had met Kevin once back in the day when I visited Columbia and we became good friends. My brother John also came to stay for about 6 months because of a series of events.

John is a wonder and he built my first wooden compost bin, dug out my dog waste compost system and built another raised bed in the garden.

But John went back to California and Kevin bought a cute little house on Walnut and it was Fido and I again on our own. I had cancelled Directv after baseball season, as I’d had the baseball package even though Dad had died about 3 games into the season. Biggest wave of grief I had was when the Tigers knocked the Yankees out of the playoffs and Dad wasn’t there to see it.

I should mention in the Spring of 2010 I officiated my friend Amy and Michael’s wedding. My 10th and final, so far, wedding. I also did my first of three, so far, funerals. I didn’t trust any minister to try to shoehorn Dad into heaven or damn him into hell. He’d announced to me he had become an atheist not long before he died. For a backslidden Christian who accepted he was going to hell a long time ago I was proud of him for letting all that bullshit go. “There are no atheists in the foxhole”. Yeah right.

In January 2012 my whole life changed. 10 days before the filing deadline an article in the local paper said no one had filed to run for the Second Ward Council seat. I decided to run and overnight my life changed. I started to think different, dress different, hang out with different people, and do different things.

When I decided to run I suspected my ideology wouldn’t live up to real world practicalities. I decided the employees and residents deserved pragmatic governance firmly rooted in the possible. I distilled my philosophy into 3 points, as is done: Livable Streets (the lack of a sidewalk on my busy street was my piece of anger, to take this crap on you have to be mad about something), Good Government (my handlers negotiated it to Cooperative Governance, but I never pulled that off), and Focus on the Future (a more universal way to describe sustainability).

A conservative and a Libertarian also joined the race. I got great help, raised the most money and won with 45% of the vote.

For two years or so I was the swing vote and it was intense, meaningful and fun. Columbia is an amazing city and I threw myself into it. The first 18 months was an incredible process of learning I can only compare to learning language when your three.

Stormwater regulation, land use, electric, water, sewer, streets, transit, parking, building projects, engineering, finance, solid waste. 20 things at least you could spend your life on and never plumb it’s depths.

On a personal level I went from an introverted putter around the house into a guy who went to everything and worked 10-12 hour days seven days a week for years. I read everything, researched on the side and scheduled tutorials with engineers. I made mistakes and learned and learned.

I decided to accept every invitation that fit in my schedule because I didn’t know what was important. I learned so much and met so many people. I decided to be a Columbia booster and unapologetic cheerleader. I kept my criticism constructive, I hope, and private.

I thought and learned and quickly came to the conclusion if you don’t want a slowly decaying status quo your role is to facilitate development. Pretty remarkable for a guy who sported a “Developers Go Build in Hell” bumper sticker back in the day.

I also learned about loud balancing and capacity and the current limits of intermittent energy sources. Pretty daunting for a former full time radical environmental activist.

Nonetheless I’ve done a lot I am proud of: Strict energy efficiency standards, raised our renewable energy from 5% to 15%, maintained solid reserves through a long series of bad budget years, updated our zoning laws with smarter growth strategies and approved a lot of dense downtown housing. We have done more for homelessness and begun a community land trust with over 20 permanently affordable homes built or in the pipeline.

I also co-chaired a Task Force on Community Violence. It was an amazing 18 month process with a report that is still the accepted way to move forward on race and policing. We were on that path when Ferguson happened and though hamstrung by lack of resources we’ve made an important progress including a ban the box law.

Through it all I had a career. Prior to running for office I had been put out to pasture at work for a notable blow up about my boss at the time and was a Counselor but no longer movingup. As a candidate Phoenix really supported me by moving me to a new position with flexibility and less emotional demands.

For a couple of years I had a “highly flexible low energy job” as my boss put it to compliment my public service. Eventually though I was needed more and became Clinical Director and more intellectually engaged in work.

Right after I kicked off my first reelection campaign I was asked to serve as Interim Executive Director and later got the position permanently.

My life quickly became insane. I told the Board I would be the best 35-40 hour a week Executive Director I could be but the City came first. It never worked that way. I was soon working 50-60 hours and doing Council. Even scaled back it was insane. I had no reserves and knew the wheel was going to come off the cart. And it did.

I should mention Flow who moved in with me in my first campaign to rent a room. What a relief for Fido who I struggled to get home every 6 hours to let him out and get him enough exercise and socialization so he wouldn’t cuddle pitifully around my head when I slept. Flow was a godsend for Fido and the garden until the 2012 drought broke her spirit.

Later John came back to live with me. He and Flow hit it off and I found I was living with a couple. Much to Uncle Mike’s chagrin who had moved into a spare room and had enjoyed squiring Flow about town and such.

John, Flow and I took an epic trip to Dominica. Two weeks around the island was transformative. I remember sitting on a beach totally chill and content wondering why my life wasn’t like that all the time. After letting it all go I couldn’t pick it up again and I came home and quit my job. My Board knew I was struggling and were good about me leaving.

Two days after I left the CEO of a local nonprofit called me to see if I’d be interested in some consulting. That seemed a better fit with Council and I lived on savings while I got the consulting firm going. John and I agreed to partner and we formed AAAAChange, LLC.

Pronounced 4-A-Change it stands for the 4 “A”s of the universal change process: Awareness, Assessment, Action & Accountability. We don’t do a lot of marketing but have done a lot of cool projects under a general heading of facilitated change processes.

We’ve written grants, advised nonprofits and disadvantaged startups, done trainings and moved someone. I’ve done some individual coaching on drinking reduction and working through grief.

Mostly I consult and train with Welcome Home a homeless veteran’s center. It’s been fun to be the in-house expert and really help shape a cool and growing nonprofit but not be responsible for it. We’re getting ready for CARF certification and that is really exciting.

Two years ago John and I bid on a contract with our local Community Improvement District to provide outreach, referral and coaching services for people who are homeless or panhandling downtown. I had created the program when I was at Phoenix but left before it was fully implemented.

John and I thought we could provide a more effective service at a lower cost and we were write. We quintupled the number of documented individuals served and have had incredible outcomes. In 2 years we’ve linked 15 individuals with permanent housing, coached 3 people into long term recovery and reunited 8 people with better situations in other communities.

I trained John on it but he’s made it his baby. We use a radical nonjudgment approach with a solution focus. We are assertive and ultra low barrier. First name or handle and the miracle question: “If you could be doing anything what would you be doing?” Then we step it out and take on step 1 jumping hoops and restoring relationships until it gets done.

I do a little clinical supervision with John and a couple of clients. I don’t do a lot of direct service besides backing up John. I did today looking for an aggressive panhandler who is new in town and engaging one of my old clients I ran into doing the search. I checked in on his status and gave him a suggestion on advancing his social security. If he can’t follow up might walk him through the application. Nothing changes a life like getting an income.

Mostly though I don’t miss direct service. I am grateful for the successes and I still hear from many. There might be hundreds out there but the dozens I’ve lost still weigh heavily on me when I have the time and stillness to reflect.

Relationships, I’ve had a few this decade. Beautiful, wonderful partners and I have been blessed with love and friendship but I can’t say I still know how to make love laugh.

I’ve started 2 book clubs the Columbia Men’s Book Club which is 8 years and running. It’s a low commitment club for non readers. We’ve read westerns, sci-fi, graphic novels and short stories. We’ve taken field trips and Trevor wrote an arts grant from one of our books and commissioned a map, did 4 radio shows and 2 re-enactments of the Diary of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft. My newer book club the Happy Hour Book Club is another low commitment affair with more relevant literature by diverse authors.

Ironically I’m reading less then I ever have, though probably still a lot. I also built a front yard lending Library.

Early last summer I became an every day bicycle commuter. I was car sharing with John but he wanted have more freedom so he bought me out of the car. Helped me tread water through 2019.

Life changed again with my second re-election campaign which was brutal. I was called a thief and a liar twice a week on the front page of the paper for three months. I also raised and spent a lot of money and really nailed the science of campaigning. I was headed for a big victory anyway when my opponent had a DUI 2 weeks before the election.

The biggest change though was my Uncle, housemate and namesake was dying of cancer. John had been doing a lot of caregiving without me even noticing with business, governance and campaigning. I started to do more and stepped up after the campaign.

John got totally burned out and I moved Uncle Mike into the living room and did caregiving full time. I left the house 7-8 times a week. Business and governance.

It took a lot out of me and put all of the things I’d been throwing my life into in perspective. Death and dying is powerful that way. I took a fallow year in 2019 and laid down my political ambitions.

I still do a lot but not everything. I still want to do something big about affordable housing and desegregating Columbia before I’m done. I have more plans as a civic activist after my mandatory 1 year blackout period where our charter does not allow past members to influence Council.

I’m looking forward to that though, just between you and I constant reader.

I’m also trying to get a friend’s brother out of prison. You’ll see a lot more about that soon. I recorded my spiritual memoirs and am looking to do a philosophy based re-entry program called the Reciprocity Institute. You’ll see more about that in the future as well.

There’s probably other important stuff but 10 years is a long time. I recharged through the holidays. From my Yule Log decade reflection to the seven days of Kwanzaa into the new year I’ve reflected and collaborated and am going to own this decade. I’ve been studying my whole life for this decade and this is when it’s really going to happen. I’m excited to see what comes next….

Categories: Uncategorized