New York prison rules allow inmates only one meeting with any given journalist. Along with many phone conversations and letters spanning 2009-2012, my sole face-to-face interview with Tim Ginocchetti occurred in August 2009, three years after his crime. Then 24 years old, he’d spent the first 11 months after his arrest in jail in Syracuse. After he was sentenced in July 2007 to 15 years in prison, the state sent him to a prison in Elmira, New York, for a few months before moving him to his permanent prison: Clinton Correctional Facility, an imposing, old, maximum-security prison in New York’s mountainous North Country. That is where we met.
During a six-hour meeting in a conference room, with a guard sitting nearby and noisy foot traffic passing by the room constantly, Tim answered all my questions but for one. He refused to discuss the night he killed his mother (I obtained those details from his statements to police and psychiatrists). Self-conscious about his voice and anxious about being interviewed for the first time, Tim at first rejected my request to record him. After about an hour of conversation, he relented and allowed me to turn on my recorder.
In these short audio excerpts, Tim discusses various topics related to his upbringing, family, and church. Where I stitched multiple segments together, I noted that with short dead-air spaces separating each part. In all cases, the segments stitched together were said at the same time, in the same order and context, but I edited out extraneous and brief material between each quoted segment.
Clip 1: Anxiety over whether his mother would confront him over his sexuality and her pressure to begin dating girls
Clip 2: His mother’s expectations and pressure on Tim to perform public readings in church
Clip 3: Fears about speaking publicly in church
Clip 4: A dream about his father
Clip 5: Their counseling with Brother Frank after Tim’s father’s death
Clip 6: His mother’s demands that he remain in constant contact with her
Clip 7: Mother-son relationship close to the time of the killing
Clip 8: Threats and pressure to protect the church and take sides against his grandmother
Clip 9: Adjusting to life in prison, filled with shame and regret