Feature Stories

Richard Haskins Faces Prison Time for a Crime He Only Sort of Committed

To the outside world, Richard Haskins exists only on video. Pay $10 and you can see him for a half-hour, broadcast live in his orange jumpsuit from the confines of Denton County Jail. The closest you can get is a video call from a building across the street from the jail.  Seeing him face-to-face is impossible, and Haskins doesn't know when that will change.
In December 2012, police arrested Haskins — the controversial front man for Denton band the Wee Beasties —  for attempting to rob the Wells Fargo bank on University Drive in Denton. He didn't have a gun, but he slipped a note at the drive-thru, then sped away in a panic.

Now, after returning to jail in March for a probation violation, he's facing time in prison. It could be two years. It could be 20. The court is yet to pass sentence, so the 31-year-old can do nothing but wait.

"Once you get into the system, it's so hard to get out," Haskins says, via video. His dark eyes dart back and forth, continually drifting downward. His hair is buzzed short, but he has a thick, brown beard. "I just wait for the day. I pray. I've been dealing with this for four years — I almost forgot what it's like not having something like this hanging over my head."

Haskins is a man of contradictions. He hangs his head in front of the monitor one minute, peeking out timidly, then laughs and throws up devil horns the next. He quotes Shakespeare, then unleashes a series of crude jokes and cuss words. Haskins refuses to accept that he's bipolar — a diagnosis he has received repeatedly — then second guesses his self-evaluation. He says he would never father a child out of wedlock, but has two illegitimate sons, one he's never met.

He's the most hated musician in Denton, but perhaps also the most loved.

Since his arrest, there have been benefit shows — endorsed by Frenchy's ubiquitous orange trucks — to raise money for Haskins' legal fees, as well as T-shirts and stickers with his red, white and blue likeness that declare, "Free Richard Haskins." "He's got a great big heart. I'll love him till the day he dies because of it," says Tomo Hanson, Haskins' trumpet player in the Wee Beasties for the past 10 years. "It's just hard to see him go through such hard times like this."

Haskins' art has always been chaos. Notorious for his antagonistic performances while fronting the Wee Beasties, Haskins will do anything to get a reaction: Wear women's underwear, bleed on his fans, piss from the stage, break the venue's equipment or fight with bar staff. Rubber Gloves owner Josh Baish describes Haskins as "Denton's poor man's version of a funnier G.G. Allin. "

Haskins has been banned from performing at Rubber Gloves — and most other venues in Denton — on several occasions. "There's just something in him that has this need to turn himself over to the chaos," Baish says. "I don't think he even necessarily attracts it; I think he invites it."

More and more, that devotion to music as performance art has bled into real life, with destructive consequences. "Richard's at the avant garde of wrecking his life," says Brave Combo front man Carl Finch. "He's at the forefront of that — which is very punk to me. He's figured out a creative way to self-destruct."

The question Haskins now faces is whether he'll get another chance to rebuild his life and burn it down. "I'm scared to death about rotting away in prison for a long time," Haskins says. The video connection skips, freezes and sometimes disconnects altogether. "I just hope people don't forget me while I'm in here."
Late at night, when Haskins was a child in Denison and couldn't sleep because of family arguments, he would call his grandmother Edna Mae Glover, who lived across town. She would drive over and, without telling his parents, take him out. She'd ferry him to her single-story Victorian house, built by Haskins' great, great, great grandfather, who fought in the battle of San Jacinto.

It was there that Glover, a piano teacher of 50 years, taught him to play. "Nobody else in the family plays music. It was just she and I. It was like our thing," Haskins remembers.

Music became a refuge. After his lessons ended, Haskins would sneak out of his room and pad past the chandeliers and the old furniture thick with polish to get to the piano. "It'd be two or three in the morning, I had to be 8 or 9 years old, and I'd just mess around with it," he says.

His grandmother would wake up, but she wouldn't stop him from playing. "She used to sit by me at the piano and help me work on stuff, help me figure stuff out," he says. "That had a profound effect on me. I don't know if I would have been able to make it through some of those times without stuff like that."

Glover died of cancer in 2005. "She was the closest thing to an actual mother I ever had, and for a long time the only woman that I ever loved," Haskins says.

When his parents divorced, Haskins' mother remarried and moved the family to Denton. Haskins, 10, was enraged. "I fucking hated the place more than anything," he says. "I was alienated, I didn't know anybody here, we lived on the outskirts of town with my fucking stepdad, who definitely didn't like the fact I existed."

But music continued to be his salve. When he was 13, his grandmother got him his first guitar — "one of those JC Penney guitars that had a built-in amplifier" — and later, for his 14th birthday, a Fender Stratocaster. "I played the shit out of that. I played that motherfucker till my fingers bled," Haskins says.

He claims he wrote 10 songs the day he got it. "It was my most cherished possession for about a five-year period, until someone broke into our apartment years later and stole it," he says. "Somebody has it probably — didn't know what the fuck it was and sold it for drugs."

As a high school freshman, he didn't waste time starting his first band. "Man, pickings were fucking slim at that age. If you had an instrument you were going to be in my band," Haskins says. He started the Wee Beasties in December 2000. "The only place to play for a punk band in Denton was at Mabel Peabody's on Sunday night," he says. "Having your parents drop you off at a gay bar before 9 o'clock when you didn't play until midnight was tough."

Without realizing it at the time, Haskins' early bands were straight punk — "all three-power-chord songs and yelling." Then he saw the band Kid Chaos, fronted by Mike Wiebe, who later went on to be the singer for Riverboat Gamblers."He's the one who made me want to be a fucking front man," Haskins says. "Before that I was just writing songs and playing them. When I saw that guy perform, it was like, 'What in the fuck? I'm going to do whatever that guy's doing.'"

Haskins, who says he also took inspiration from iconic contortionist Iggy Pop and degenerate punk G.G. Allin, became committed to putting himself on the line for his performances. "They pay money to see me give everything I have. I bleed on stage. I do anything I can to make people feel like they're getting their money's worth," he says. "It's almost how wrestlers describe what they do: 'Hell yeah, I abuse my body, but I give the people what they pay for.'"
Giving the people what they pay for can also mean a lot of antagonism. "I don't know what it is, but when I get a fucking microphone in my hand, this is gone," he says, motioning to indicate his normal self. "I'm going to do whatever I got to do to get a reaction. And if that means I'm going to break a beer bottle and spit blood on a fucking manager and roll in glass and fucking piss on stage, them I'm going to do it ... I do not break character."

Matt Pole, a guitarist and bassist for the Wee Beasties who joined a few months after the band started, says playing with Haskins is "always entertaining." "He's a great storyteller," Pole says. "[But] sometimes he puts himself into the stories more than he should." 

"I feel like I don't want to be relegated to a fucking disease, I don't want to be reduced to this condition. Because I'm just me."

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Haskins' reputation in Denton has long had more to do with his outrageous performances than with the music itself. He claims he's been banned from every venue in town at one point or another. One time at Rubber Gloves, he brought pigs' heads from a Mexican market and stuck them on the mic stands. "During the show, I grabbed a pig's head, threw it on stage and it bled on the floor. I think somebody ate part of it," he remembers. "We got banned from there for what seemed like a year and a half."

"I didn't do the majority of the banning. That was done by my managers," says Baish. "I'd come in the next day after one of his shows, and they'd always tell me, 'Guess what Richard did last night? He's banned again.'"

But it wasn't always the performances that got him in trouble. "There's hypocrisy everywhere," Haskins says. "Clubs, especially in Denton, will underpay you. They promise the moon and the stars that they'll pay you $500. You play the show. You show up with a fucking packed house, and at the end of the night they somehow want to give you $400." Haskins shakes his head in disgust. "I'll break every one of your fucking microphones. I'll smash your goddamn monitors. I've done it. I swear to God I've done it." He says he once left a gig at The Prophet Bar without his shoes because he'd "run out of other things to throw."

Sooner or later, Haskins and the Wee Beasties would usually get invited back. "A lot of those places we went back to because, I think, had we not generated money, had we not brought in the crowds, those relationships never would've been repaired," he says.

Baish says a "duality" lies behind Haskins' wild streak. "He goes out of his way to offend and upset. He offended me, and that's not necessarily an easy thing to do," he says. "But if you get to know him, he's just a really sweet, caring guy who happens to also be really funny."

Pole echoes the sentiment. "He's done plenty of charity shows. Every time I heard him talking about trying to raise money with the music, none of it would ever go in his pocket," he says. "As selfish as he can appear, he's actually quite selfless."

Eventually, feeling as though he couldn't hold down a real job, he decided to try finding other ways to make money from music. "I've quit every job I've ever had," he says. "I would've been fired from every job I've ever had." He'd first tried going to college to be a psychology major — "I wanted to help kids whose parents had gotten divorced" — but he dropped out and went to the MediaTech Institute, where he took a program in audio engineering.

"We were doing our records and shit and I was just interested in the process," he says. Once he'd gone to school for recording, for the first time he found something that he truly seemed to excel at. "Generally, you don't even get an internship there until after you've graduated, and I started working there two months after getting out of school there," he says. "I knew my fucking shit. I was top of my class."

Before long, he had his own recording studio, Black Bottle Recording, on the square in Denton, where he would record music for Brave Combo, Paul Wall, Lil Keke and "basically every punk band in Denton."

"I can play 20 instruments, believe it or not," Haskins says. "None of them well."

Brave Combo's office was next door to Black Bottle, and they recorded two albums under Haskins' guidance, including 2008's Exotic Rocking Life. "He was easy to work with. He had a really good musical sense and he had good ideas," remembers Finch. "He listened to a lot of pop music, so I'd give him a reference, like, 'It sounds more like this,' and he'd know what I was trying to achieve."

By then, Haskins was married and had a son. But before long, he would lose it all, including the recording studio. And that was just the beginning.
Haskins had never seen a singer like Marlys Williams before. Everything about her band, the Bad Omens, was metal, right down to all the members having black instruments. But in his eyes, Williams was straight punk: She had short, red hair and freckles and stood perfectly in place, clutching the mic in a fierce death grip. "She wrapped her whole hand around that fucking thing like she fucking meant it," Haskins remembers. "The look on her face when she yelled into it — I was super taken aback."

He was 19 at the time, and she was 10 years older. The Bad Omens were scheduled to open for the Wee Beasties that night at J&Js Pizza, a fact that they didn't take kindly to. Things didn't exactly start off on the right foot.

"They were older than us and they thought it was bullshit to have to open for these kids. I was like, 'You're not going to want to play after us because the second we're done playing everybody's going to leave,'" Haskins says. Except Haskins, who was immediately infatuated with Williams: "Somebody has video of it, the first time I'm seeing her, I'm like, 'I'm going to marry that girl some day.'"

He did two years later, after he and Williams discovered she was pregnant. "I wasn't going to have an illegitimate son. That wasn't the Texas thing to do," he says. Making hasty plans, they tied the knot on Halloween, a few weeks after his 21st birthday. 

"He went straight from our mother's house to a well-off woman who was just like his mother," says Haskins' sister Caity. "Marlys was a lot older than Richard. I think Richard didn't — and still doesn't — know how to really take care of himself and stand on his own. ... He needed someone to take care of him."

The following year their son Viggo was born. "I was super dad," Haskins says. "He was like my sidekick for years there. I wouldn't be seen anywhere out in public without him. [And] he was so much like me. It's such a weird feeling having a kid: 'You used to not be here, but now I would die for you.'"

His friends and colleagues saw his devotion. "Ever since I met him, he's really always talked so highly of his son Viggo. The only time he wouldn't hang out with me or crash at my house was if he was going to see his son," Hanson says. "When he did get to see him, he was the happiest person I'd ever seen."

But Haskins was never going to settle comfortably into a normal, domesticated life. "It was sort of one of those things where she wanted me to pursue my dreams, but only so long as it was by her [terms]," he says. "I only hung out with my ex-wife's friends, I didn't really hang out with mine. I wasn't really doing anything musically except for doing my own stuff."

Haskins says every show he played was grounds for a fight. "The whole time we were married, I couldn't play music. I had to sneak around to play in a band because she was always afraid girls were going to fuck me because she wasn't having sex with me," he says. "I went two years and three months without having sex altogether. And I'm fucking in my early 20s [at the time]." But, he says, "I stayed faithful till the very end. Then..."

He trails off, shaking his head, and shrugs. "She found out about it and whatnot."

When the marriage was heading for divorce, Haskins made the difficult decision to sell Black Bottle. "We were about to get divorced and it was very apparent she was going to be half my business owner, and that was not going to work," he says. "So I sold it off for pennies on the dollar and joined the Navy."

Joining the Navy was, in part, a last-ditch effort to save his marriage. "I don't know if deep down I felt like going away would fix things. But I definitely did feel like, OK, let's put some distance between us. Like, maybe she'll realize how much she wants me," Haskins says. It was a typically extreme decision for him to make. "I had to lose 100 pounds to join the Navy, no shit. It was really insane. I did that in three and a half months; no drugs, just fucking running every goddamn day, all day."

But it didn't work. While Haskins was in basic training, he says he started getting phone calls from Williams demanding a divorce. "It was literally my soon-to-be ex-wife saying, 'Hey, I'm divorcing you, you're never going to see your son again, I'm selling all your guitars and the record collection that your grandfather gave you,'" he says. "I was getting letters that were like pictures of my son, saying, 'Remember this face because you're never going to see him again."

Williams did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story.

Haskins frantically tried to get back home to fix the mess he'd left behind. While undergoing a military examination, he was diagnosed as bipolar, and he used that as his out. "It was really easy to just be like, 'Oh, I have bipolar disorder," he says. But, he says, "It kind of came back to bite me in the ass because my ex-wife used it in our divorce papers. She used it to where basically if she felt I was unmedicated, I couldn't see my kid."

"All I can say is that I have not been able to see my grandson since they were married," says Haskins' mother, Catherine Giles. "There is no legitimate reason for that. That's a decision [Williams] made."

Once discharged from the Navy, and with his divorce final in 2010, Haskins started putting his life back together. "I'd gotten in this good spot, dude. I was proud of myself: I had disposable income, I really paid child support for my son, he always had new clothes," he says. "Everything was good." 

But early in 2012, the year after he'd fathered another child, he lost custody of Viggo. "She flat out told me I wasn't going to have visitation anymore. I fought and fought and fought for a couple months and she just did what she wanted to."

Haskins went into a tailspin. He quit his job and threw himself into binge drinking. "I had my first shot of alcohol when I was 25 years old. I'd never drank before then. It was just one of those things where I started drinking and didn't care about anything," he says. "What was I going to do? It was like having part of your body removed, like having somebody take a chunk of your heart."

He picked up periodic work at recording studios, but he became essentially homeless. He crashed on Hanson's couch, and after he'd been kicked out of there, his sister's. "I was on the couch in a trailer house. You couldn't even set a drink down without roaches jumping out," he says. "A year prior, I'd been fucking doing real well. I drove a Mercedes. I fell off the deep end in a year."

He was at rock bottom. Then he found out his girlfriend was pregnant.
Haskins didn't wake up on the morning of December 7, 2012, expecting to rob a bank.  

"Literally nothing was going right in my life," he says. "I was just in the worst, loneliest, darkest place in my whole life. I just wanted something different to happen." That morning, he drove his girlfriend to work and she cried in the car, worried about how they would get by with the baby. She worked at Denton Independent County Hamburger, across the street from the Wells Fargo. After he'd dropped her off, he sat in his car, unsure of what to do.

"I sat in that car for a good hour staring at the bank and having a fucking panic attack. I'm watching all these people just go in and get cash and leave," he says. He chuckles, as though getting money were the simplest thing in the world to do. "I thought, I'm either going to get away with money, or going to go to prison or the cops are going to kill me. All three of those are awesome." It was almost like an out-of-body experience: "Looking back, it's like thinking of somebody else doing it."

Haskins pulled his rust red 1984 Mercedes diesel up to the drive-thru window and slipped a "hastily scrawled note on a deposit slip" into the tube. He waited, gradually losing his nerve. Then he realized no one was at the teller window. Defeated and weeping, he put the car into gear and sped away.

"I wasn't trying to really rob a bank per se, if that makes sense. I mean, anyone who looks at that is going to know, obviously I'm a smart dude, I wasn't trying to," Haskins says. He didn't even have a gun on him at the time of the robbery. "There was no way I was going to get away with it. It was a cry for help, man."

He hid from the police until the next day, when he turned himself in at the police station: "My mom went into the bank and apologized to the [manager] the next day. Obviously my mom thinks I'm completely insane, but that lady manager cried [and] they asked [that] charges be dropped. The federal government dropped them. [They were] like, 'Obviously this guy has some serious problems.' But the good old Texas attorneys office, they sure fucking picked it up."

The failed robbery was big news in Denton, and Haskins wound up on the front page of the Denton Record Chronicle. He and his girlfriend tried to make things work, moving out of Denton to go live with his father in Sherman, but it didn't last. "I think she feels betrayed because she feels like, had the robbery never happened, we would've ended up getting married and stuff like that," he says. Their child, another son — his third — was born in August, 2013. He's never met him.

That same month, Haskins was put on probation. "The first whole month I was in jail because they gave me 30 days, I don't know why, just for the fuck of it I guess," he says. Overwhelmed by what was happening, Haskins said he became suicidal and was sent to a mental hospital in Wichita Falls. Unable to report for probation, he was transferred to jail in December 2013, where he was put on suicide watch. "They take you bare-ass naked, because apparently you can kill yourself with clothes, and throw you in a 5-by-5 cell and won't give you a mattress to sleep."

His psychiatric examinations continually came back with the same diagnosis — bipolar. But he remains ambivalent about it. "I've been suffering from definite depression probably for the bulk of my life. I feel like everybody does," he says. "I feel like I don't want to be relegated to a fucking disease. I don't want to be reduced to this condition, because I'm just me."

Haskins eventually got out of jail on 10 years' probation in April 2014, but the odds were stacked against him. "I had warrants when they let me out of jail. I didn't have an ID; I couldn't get an ID because I had warrants; I couldn't make money to pay for the fucking warrants because I couldn't get a job, because I didn't have an ID," he says. "How did they not expect it to go wrong?"

He managed to make money doing sound gigs for local venues and playing his music, at first focusing on a new band called the Unmarked Graves, all of which paid him in cash. He also claims he stayed up to date on his probation check-ins, which were their own challenge. Sometimes he'd have up to four urine tests in a week, which he had to pay fees to take, but — for a while anyway — he kept up.

But, almost inevitably, it all came unraveled again, this time with the sudden death of his on-and-off girlfriend, Alaina McMillan.
"I haven't been in that spot before or since, emotionally or mentally," Haskins says, of the bank robbery. "The closest, really, was when Alaina died."

Haskins first met McMillan when she was in high school, and he was fresh out of it. They'd been friends ever since, but in the year after Haskins had gotten out of jail McMillan came to be an invaluable support for him. "She was the female version of me. Every bit as wild as I was, had every bit as many crazy ideas, every bit as creative as me," Haskins says. "She had a lot of demons to deal with. She was an alcoholic. She had a real major problem with alcohol, but other than that she was just the sweetest person you ever imagined."

On May 15, 2015, McMillan died in a drunk driving accident. Haskins says McMillan, who had already been drinking, called and asked him to pick her up some food — and also a bottle of vodka. "I'd probably done this 1,000 times for her, because I've known her since high school. But she was so drunk when she called me, honestly, I felt like I was enabling her, for the first time ever," he says. "I kissed her on the cheek and left for band practice. Twenty minutes later, she was dead."

Haskins goes back and forth on exactly the nature of his and McMillan's relationship. They were longtime friends, and Haskins claims they had been living together. He even, alternately, says they were dating. After an article appeared in the Dallas Observer in March identifying them as a couple, various sources emerged to refute that characterization — although none were willing to go on record. McMillan's family declined to comment for this story.

"They were dating for a long time, but they were driving each other nuts," says Hanson, who was friends with both. "I think at the time he was actually living with her, too, even when they weren't still dating. But I know they still had a love for each other."

Either way, Haskins says he was devastated and felt responsible for her death. "If I'd bought her that bottle of vodka that night she'd still be alive," he says, taking a deep sigh. "And that's a tough thing to deal with." He pauses, his voice breaking up through the phone. "Her dad has repeatedly told me it wasn't my fault, and it's so hard to hear it from him because that was his only daughter," he adds. "It's one of those things, no matter what I do, I don't think I'll ever get over that."

"Richard holds that over him[self], but it's not his fault. He shouldn't blame himself," adds Hanson, who says McMillan had been in another accident days before the one that killed her. "He could've stopped it one night from happening, but it would've happened eventually, I'm sure."

Once again, Haskins threw himself into binge drinking. With no place to live and no access to the medications he'd been receiving with the help of McMillan, he says he once again felt nothing to live for. He stopped showing up to his probation appointments — "You can't show up like that," he says — and wound up living in a shed that he rented in someone's back yard. "I crawled in there one day and chased the possum that was living in there out of there. God's honest truth." He breaks out laughing.

Haskins didn't do much to help his public image through this period. "I didn't care about anything. I tried as much as I could to piss everybody off. I just wanted everybody to hate me because I hated myself," he says. That provocateur stage persona had always bled into his personal life. "I don't want to hurt anybody. That's the last thing I want to do. But at the same time, I can't start putting a filter on." His face brightens up as a thought occurs to him: "I'm not smart enough to have a filter, let's just say that."

"He went off the deep end. He just went completely nuts," says Hale Baskin, the singer for Denton band the Southpaw Preachers and a close friend of Haskins. "And I didn't know he wasn't telling people his live-in girlfriend had been killed. I always thought people knew that and were taking it into account."

Finally, his friend RJ Avery intervened, coaxing him out of the shed and taking him to his place in Forney, where he helped Haskins find a job. Once again, Haskins managed to get back on his feet, and by early this year he'd landed two new jobs as audio engineer at recording studios. Then he found out that federal marshals were looking for him, thanks to a warrant that had been issued last October when he stopped showing up for his probation meetings.

By the time Haskins was scheduled to perform at 35 Denton on March 11, he was tired of trying to evade arrest. He says he was planning to turn himself in after that weekend's performance at J&Js. "What was I going to do, run forever? There's no hiding from that," he says. "I knew they were looking for me but I wasn't going to let anybody down. I was going to play that show come hell or high water."

He disguised himself with a bushy beard and a lightning bolt he'd painted on the side of his head, but as he made his way to the back door of the building, where one of his band mates lived, he stopped to high-five a stranger in a Hawaiian shirt. "It didn't even dawn on me that this dude was a cop," Haskins says. "I walk up and I'm like, 'What's up, dude?' I threw my hands up to high-five him and those cocksuckers tackled me. Tackled me and threw me to the ground."

Haskins never made it to the show. Instead, he went to jail. "I heard the room [at J&J's] was pretty packed, so I'm happy about that," he says.
These days, Haskins gets up every morning at 4 o'clock, eats breakfast and exercises in the rec yard. He takes great care to keep his cell — nothing more than a bunk bed and his locker — in order, folding his blankets in the tight, crisp fashion he learned in the Navy.

But mostly he spends his days writing letters. Envelopes are expensive, so Haskins often trades his meal tray with other inmates in exchange for more. 

"I write [Texas governor] Greg Abbott once a week. I draw silly pictures too — which I hope might make him take notice," he says. His letters are scrawled out on lined paper, with the drawings done in colored pencil. "I draw hilarious pictures of guards, I draw humorous pictures of other inmates, I draw silly cats, I draw members of the Texas Legislature as cats. I don't know why. It seems like a funny thing to do."
One of the letters Haskins wrote was to Baish, who unexpectedly announced last month that he would be closing Rubber Gloves after nearly 20 years of ownership.

"It teared me up," Baish admits. He says he's been contacted by lots of people since the news broke, but that Haskins was the only one to send a handwritten note. "There was no one else who wore their heart on their sleeve like Richard did in that letter. It's that dichotomy again: He sends you a letter from jail, and inside is just that sweet, kind and earnest side to him."

His friends have continued to sell T-shirts and hand out stickers to raise support, and even held benefit shows for him. Earlier this month, Baskin was married, and they arranged for Haskins to speak over the phone. "I wrote a really heartfelt speech," he says. "Apparently it went over well."

Haskins has also kept a sort of online presence, thanks to his friends and girlfriend, whom he passes messages onto to post on his Facebook page. He writes about the mundanities of jail life and makes plenty of jokes. "So my lawyer is a big fan of the band U2," read one recent post, "which I guess makes him pro Bono."

"I think it's great. Richard's promotion machine is still pumping things out, almost as though he weren't in jail," says Finch. "There's something to be said for that. He's a promoter, man. A P.T. Barnum guy."

Giles, however, remains suspicious of his friends' efforts to help him out. "I told him before, 'Sweetie, your friends, they love you, but if something happened to you, they would go have other friends,'" she says. "'But I will never have another son. You are irreplaceable. There will never be another you in my life.' That's God's honest truth."

Recently, he put out a call asking for people to write letters to help sway the opinion of the district attorney. He says he received "tons," not only from Denton residents but from folks outside Texas, as well.

"It's been pretty humbling. I haven't read any because I don't have access to any of that stuff," he says. People from local music festivals and ex-city council members have written letters of support. "Of course I've gotten a couple negative ones," he adds. But he hopes it will be enough to get him leniency. "[The district attorney] is supposed to represent the community, and right now I feel they're acting in a way the community doesn't really want them to act."

He has his music, too, thanks to a small, handheld radio he bought from the jail commissary with funds that were donated to his account. The only station that comes in clearly is KNTU 88.1 FM, so he puts in his ear buds and listens to jazz music. Sometimes, though, he can still hear his friends. "On Saturday nights, they play local musicians, so I write them and ask them to play some of my favorite local bands' stuff," Haskins says.

Waiting for the court to impose his prison sentence has made Haskins as reflective as he gets. "I want to be in a spot where society is OK with me being a part of it again. I've done some real crazy things. I'm not a bad guy," Haskins says.

He pauses, then shakes his head once more. "I don't know what I've done to anybody in my life who would say I deserve to be in prison forever and ever and ever."
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Jeff Gage
Contact: Jeff Gage