New Netflix documentary series gives voice to death row inmates

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Courtesy of IMDB

"I am a Killer."

“I Am A Killer” follows the stories of convicted inmates who are currently serving their sentences on death row. 

The series is among many that cover the crime genre, but it manages to give itself an edge by giving a first-person point-of-view to the killers themselves. Even though there are similar shows out there now, “I Am Killer” gives the audience an in-depth look of how a killer may think.

The first episode of the series, “Means to an End,” gives the full scope of the case of a Florida inmate, James Robertson. Throughout the episode, we not only get the perspective of the killer himself, but the other people involved in the case. Through interviews, people are able to give a multi-dimensional account on Robertson’s case.

To begin the episode, a fact is displayed that states  that since the reintroduction of the death penalty in 1976, more than eight thousand people have been sentenced to death for murder.

James Robertson was sentenced to death for the murder of his cellmate. Robertson, 54, has been in jail for about 37 years and has been in solitary confinement for 20 of those years. To get into solitary confinement, he had strangled his cellmate to death. His motive was unclear, but one possible explanation is that he wanted better living conditions.

Throughout the episode, there are interviews with Anne Otwell, a corrections nurse during Robertson’s time in solitary confinement along with Robert Lynch, Robertson’s former cellmate. Mark De Sisto, Robertson’s fifth attorney, Mike Gottfried from the Florida Department of Corrections and David Moshor, Robertson’s cousin, were also interviewed for this episode. 

Otwell and Lynch both had a cynical and less sympathetic view of Robertson’s case. Both were able to describe how Robertson actually behaved  behind bars and gave the harsh truth. Otwell said that the first thing that she noticed about Robertson was his angry face. She stated that anyone would notice that Robertson was a “pressure cooker ready to blow.” 

Lynch continues with a similar sentiment, saying that Robertson would only do something if he would get away with it; Robertson would solve many of his problems, no matter how minute or large, with violence. 

De Sisto and Moshor had different outlooks on the matter. De Sisto believes that Robertson deserves sympathy, due to all of the factors that played into Robertson’s case. Robertson’s parents were both substance abusers, and  he had no guidance during his formative years.

Moshor, Robertson’s cousin, believes that Robertson wasn’t born a monster and that his upbringing contributed to where he is today. Moshor  mentioned the fact that Robertson’s family has no contact with him at all, including his brothers who haven’t spoken with him in 25 years.

“Means to an End” was able to explore the complexity of a killer on death row. With De SIsto and Moshor, we could potentially sympathize with Robertson. With Lynch and Otwell, we can understand the callousness of Robertson’s nature.

“I Am A Killer” does a decent job giving the audience a different perspective of the criminal justice system. When it comes to crime stories, we tend to hear from the victims or the victims’ families; we may even hear from the prosecutors and detectives on the case. It’s not often that we get the perspective of the people who committed the crimes themselves.

This pilot kicked off a show that gives us an insight into the minds of people who can do such a heinous act. Viewers can look forward to complex storytelling of how and why Robertson wanted to be on death row. Ultimately, “Means to an End” does a wonderful job of setting up a potentially groundbreaking and intriguing show.