James Crowdes talks about the family history of John Eastlack, who he helped get off death row. Crowdes found many problems with alcohol and drugs in Eastlack's family tree.
Before finally finding a family to love him, Eastlack bounced around in the system, staying in nurseries and foster homes.
"John is a whole science experiment," said attorney Leticia Marquez, who worked on the appeal. "John is the worst-case scenario of what can happen to a child."
Not understanding the damage done to his brain from prenatal exposure to alcohol and poor genetics, Eastlack's adoptive family and professionals treated the child as they did other children. But nothing worked.
"What would have been a perfect environment for another child backfired for him," Ryan said. "For John it was just the opposite of what he needed."
The Eastlacks tried to teach their son natural consequences and let him learn from his mistakes, Ryan said. What he needed was intense structure with no decisions to make.
Like his birth parents, Eastlack stole constantly.
"When John would steal, he would use the money to throw parties, because he desperately wanted people to like him," said Crowdes. "He would do anything to buy friends. He's a 12-year-old wrapped in a 30-year-old body."
Prison is the only safe place for Eastlack, the three agree.
"There's no way he should be out," Crowdes said. "He's OK as long as he's really confined. He can't function in a society where there is too much going on. Prison is the best place for him. He's happy there. He's functioning well."
Said Ryan, "He functions very well in a very structured environment, as long as he doesn't have to make a choice. He can't decide X over Y. He cannot live in our society."