Killer Raisin Stem
Or whatever it was: My first big mistake was believing I was protected by the FDA food safety standards and could safely purchase and eat an Otis Spunkmeyer cookie during an afternoon break (Buzz, November 30). The errant stem was sent to the laboratory of Otis Spunkmeyer's choice and analyzed. The findings concluded that the object I had bitten into was "...a very hard substance, not easily fractured by a metal blade...more than an inch in length." As my attorney stated during trial, if this was a raisin stem, it had to come from the mother of all raisins! The appellate court quickly noted during the hearing that there was never any proof entered into evidence that it was a raisin stem. Bill Hart came up with this and used it to the maximum during trial. The jury was hearing "cookie" and "raisin stem." That's no big deal, right?

Wrong! The innocence of having an afternoon snack changed the life of a vibrant, newly married woman forever. Not only has my physical appearance changed because of more than 13 hours of corrective maxiofacial surgery, but I also endure constant pain, swelling, and embarrassing red streaking across my face. The physical therapy immediately following surgery was nothing short of torture. I endured electrical stimulation to help recover the movement in my damaged facial muscles and radiation treatments to help reduce the effects of scarring after such a radical total joint-replacement surgery.

I worked arduously to recover from that devastating bite into an Otis Spunkmeyer cookie. This isn't a hot coffee spill on your lap. The scars are right there on my face and neck every day. There hasn't been a totally pain-free day since the incident in November 1990. I have endured more than a decade of living with an injury that caused facial deformity and relentless pain and required the use of prescription pain medicines and heating pads wrapped around my head to help control the pain.

This is an injury that I, as well as my husband and two young children, have to live with every day. My husband warns the children to "watch out for Mama's head" as they play around me. Snuggles and hugs from the children--my 7-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son--bump screws and metal plates in my face that generate extreme pain. A tight squeeze from my son brings tears to my eyes, but I endure the pain for the love of my children.

Bill Hart was relentless in his refusal to acknowledge my injuries. He accused me of seeking life-changing compensation. Was the price I paid for one of their cookies worth what I received in return? I was injured by a product that should have been safe for human consumption. Otis Spunkmeyer has spent a small fortune fighting this case, but I am not going away. I'm fighting for my right to be protected as a consumer, and I'm fighting for acknowledgment of my pain and suffering.

Nancy Blakely

Church and State Pen
Religion disguised as prison reform: The following comment is in response to the recent article "Prisoners of Love" (November 30) regarding the prison-reform system and religion. The quote by director Jack Cowley, "I told a Muslim going through the program that if he didn't have a relationship with Jesus he was going to hell," demonstrates an attitude of intolerance and bigotry. I can only hope that tax dollars are not funneled into this religious movement disguised as prison reform. What happened to separation of church and state? Apparently, prisoners can now earn "good time" and early release by converting to Christianity and pretending to believe in a religion that may or may not support their religious views. Currently, prisoners are subjected to this version of oppression under the guise of improvement. Thank you for covering an interesting story in an objective manner. Unfortunately, the Dallas Observer is becoming increasingly responsible for highlighting stories that the public would otherwise not have access to because of popular propaganda and censorship. According to the article, prisoners have lost the right to choose and are denied religious freedom.

Name withheld

Still No. 3
Why I don't watch: Great article. I don't know firsthand the quality of Channel 11 News ("We're No. 3!" November 30) because I don't watch it. They pre-empt the credits for the lead-in programs, and I think that's unbelievably rude. Some of us actually read those credits. Often, they're in such a rush to get the news on, it's hard to tell that the show's actually ended. It's just gone, and the news is on. And the time at the bottom of the screen handily states "9:58" so we know they're early. I'll stick to watching Channel 5 and Channel 8 newscasts.

Janet E. Graham

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