Bakersfield News Observer

September 23, 2020

Dear Editor:

My name is Doris Shotwell. This letter is concerning my son, Cedric Struggs who has been incarcerated for over 40 years for a crime he did not commit. He was a teenager, a client of Kern Regional Center, and Kern View Mental Hospital. He was tested while going to court to see if he could stand trial, his IQ was 69.

In school, he was in special education for a learning disability. He had medical problems due to being born prematurely. His lungs were not developed and he would occasionally just stop breathing. He had speech problems, hyperactivity, and other medical problems. He was diagnosed with ADHD which is related to autism in several ways and he couldn’t sit still. He was unable to focus because of his excessive movement.

I think by Cedric being born prematurely and unable to pay attention or understand and the many times that he stopped breathing, could have given him brain damage.

So, as a teenager (17 year-old) sent to prison in 1981, he thought as a younger kid. He was sent to the worst prison, San Quentin. So, all he knew was to try to survive and to fight the inmates off of him. He suffered from anxiety and depression.

Enclosed is a letter from the person who did the crime. I have gotten multiple letters from Ronald Robinson saying that he was sorry that he brought this upon Cedric. My son could not be picked out of a line-up. He never had a gun nor did he rob anyone. His functioning was that of a 13-15 year- old and not as a man to be sent off to a harsh life in prison. He was not guilty, so he thought that if he didn’t do the crime, he would not go to prison.

Cedric and his daughter. (Courtesy Photo)

Now after 40 years there is still no justice for him. He should be given a chance. He’s already spent his younger days locked up.

I am now close to 80 years- old. He has lost his dad and his step-father. It would be so hurtful to lose me also. I can imagine all that he’s been through as a child and in prison for over 40 years; and to lose me also.

Please put this letter in your newspaper. He’s supposed to go back to court on October 7, 2020 and if he comes back to court, it would be time served. I don’t think they will bring him back tocourt, but to Lerdo for a video hearing. If he’s brought back to the courthouse, he would have to be set free.

I want FREEDOM for CEDRIC STRUGGS who is 58 years old. They have taken all of his life and need to let him go. Enough is enough! I want freedom for him and I will be protesting Oct.1st-7th.

Sincerely,

Cedric’s mom-Doris Shotwell

A type-written letter dated August 11, 2020 and signed by Ronald Robinson was enclosed with the above- letter from Mrs. Shotwell and received in the mailroom of the Bakersfield News Observer. In part it stated,” Mr. Struggs was a 17 year old kid when I committed the murder. He has been in prison for over 40 years for actions that were not his own.” “I am tortured by the damage my awful action had on (name of victim), his family, friends, and community. And I am equally tortured by the damage my actions has caused on Mr. Struggs, his mother, daughter, and family; spending all of his life in prison.”

In a telephone conversation, Mrs. Shotwell told the Bakersfield News Observer, “Cedric never took a plea deal all these days, and has always said,”’ I didn’t do it.’” Mrs. Shotwell has been in contact with Kim Kardashian-West (Advocate for Criminal Justice Reform), Black Lives Matter, and All of Us or None of Us.

An inmate’s sketch of Cedric (now with white/grey hair) and his mother. (Courtesy Photo)