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Marked for Death

Trapped in a prison race war, Tony Francis had three choices: kill, snitch or run. He found another way out.

In several of these instances, though, the evidence linking Francis to the paraphernalia was so weak that prison officials never pursued it, and Judge Wiley Daniel barred the prosecution from introducing its suspicions at trial. Yunker argues that the government was able to present its strongest evidence of prior bad acts, including the 1993 escape, and it still didn't matter; ultimately, what counted was the situation Francis was facing at Florence in the wake of the Lewisburg murders.

The race war that raged in the federal prison system in 1997 seems to have subsided over the past two years. Some inmates say it's still going on and will never stop. Francis and Haney have spent most of that time in single cells in the SHU of the federal prison in Englewood. No privileges. No cellmates. No danger.

Although Judge Daniel granted the defense attorneys' motion not to send their clients back to Florence before sentencing, Francis and Haney had already been moved back to the USP by the time the order was issued. Yunker says the immediate threat of death has gone away, but that doesn't mean Francis will be able to ride out his federal stretch in perfect safety. "He still has a real concern that something will happen to him," she says. "The threats get buried, but they don't go away."

Neither do the killings. Last month there was another homicide in the SHU at Florence. As with the Estrella case, the matter is still under investigation by the FBI, and few details have been released, other than the victim's name: James Curtis Martin, 33, serving a sentence of up to 95 years for two counts of second-degree murder. According to the autopsy report, he was stabbed in the neck and strangled.

There, but for the grace of Special Forces, goes Tony Francis.

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