Convicted Felon Apologizes To Me “For Being a Jerk”

I occasionally get letters from prison inmates at my home because as a crime writer, I send them as well. I rarely consider the potential danger of an inmate knowing my home address, but perhaps should. Sometimes the letters are a bit volatile and maybe a threatening, but that goes with the job, I guess.
But this week, I got a note of contrition from a guy named Floyd Pennington, who I mentioned in my recent book, Girl, Wanted: The Chase for Sarah Pender.
Pennington was an inmate who testified against Sarah Pender in 2001 and was himself locked up in Marion County Jail in Indiana for a number of crimes that would eventually land him prison time. He had befriended Pender and she had tried to get him to be a party to an escape attempt, although he didn’t do follow through. She would escape from prison in 2008, which is the subject of the book.
In the book, I describe talking with Sarah during a prison visit and told her that:
…I had tried to contact Floyd Pennington, an inmate who testified against her at her trial, saying that she had confessed to him that the murders were planned by her and carried out by Richard Hull at her orders. It was some strong testimony and played at least a part in her conviction.
Pennington did some of the state’s bidding in eliciting what he described as Sarah’s semi-confession. Sarah harbored no small resentment for him, of course. But she almost—almost, I repeat—laughed when I told her about Pennington’s two-page letter response to my query. It was a small victory for me to get a chuckle from her.
It also made me realize that relying on inmates and convicts for information is always a hard road. Theirs is a life of deceit, sadly, and I’m sure they feel vindicated for their own dishonesty every time they watch a law enforcement official lie on the stand, which is more common than anyone wants to admit. For the life of a law enforcement agent, too, is one that relies on deceit in order to prevail.
Pennington responded to my letter: “It’s no one’s business what went on between me and Sarah. She is a beautiful spirit, but so cold emotionally.”
He said he was once in love with her, “but she changed that.” Pennington advised that Sarah’s road had been a rough one and told me to “leave her the hell alone.”
As if this weren’t all enough, Pennington said he didn’t believe I was a journalist and didn’t believe that anyone would write a book about Sarah.
He signed off with a “Fuck off!” and added a cryptic PS—“Her and her sidekick Lynn can both go to hell, I’m no fool.”
I have no idea who Lynn is. This is the stuff of lining up inmate interviews.

So when I received a letter of apology from Pennington, I was surprised.
He said, “You wrote me some time ago to ask me about my side of the story concerning the Sarah Pender situation and I rudely declined that because she had suffered enough, but since then she has continued to have people writing me and I’m fed up with it, sir.”
“She just had some dumbass guy from Belgium to write me, asking me why I done what I done and calling me out of my name (sic), so if that’s how she wants it, then it shall be so.”
Pennington, in his letter that you can read here, says that Sarah had her boyfriend Richard Hull brainwashed and was corresponding with about 10 other guys in the jail as she awaited her murder trial.
Hull was Pender’s boyfriend in October 2008, when she and Hull murdered their two roommates over an alleged drug debt.
“I spent 10 months writing to her and falling in love with her only to have my heart broke. I didn’t; even tell the prosecutors all of the stuff she said, she’s damn lucky I didn’t!!”
Seeing as Pender is locked up 23 hours a day and serving 110 years, it’s hard to fathom what more he could have contributed to her Life in Hell. She’s even filed a lawsuit over her treatment in prison.
Pennington ends his letter with a P.S. “I apologize for being a jerk the first time you wrote to me sir!”
The 39-year-old Pennington is on the crime lifetime plan; he is serving 30 years on a 2008 rape conviction, and has served time over the years for theft, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, robbery and battery.
And I accept his apology.

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