DEATH ROW BLUES
John A. Bertsch, T-03474
San Quentin Prison
San Quentin, CA 94974
October 17, 2002
My name is John A. Bertsch, C.D.C. #T-03474, currently incarcerated here in East Block on California’s
Death Row at San Quentin State Prison.
I am white, 44-years-old, from Sacramento, California, and have been disowned and forsaken by all family
and friends after my conviction and sentence of death during my capital trial in the year of 2000 in the
Superior Court of Sacramento County.
I had spent 10 years of my life in the Sacramento County main jail downtown, trying to get to my trial.
Law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office prosecuting my case had played games over the years
with the evidence.
My case was one of the first DNA cases in the country, back in 1989, that the F.B.I. worked upon. The
F.B.I. had trouble with their DNA lab and program in 1993, and the evidence was not reliable for court.
The above action by the F.B.I. was documented in the 1998 book by author John F. Kelly called, “Tainting
Evidence: Inside the Scandals At the F.B.I. Crime Lab” (p. 236, n. 6).
During my stay in the county jail awaiting my trial, I became a jailhouse lawyer. I would help other
inmates with their cases and other legal matters. I came to know some of the country’s most infamous
criminals, like the “Unabomber”; Theodore J. Kaczynski; Hell’s Angel Otis “Ruck” Garrett, president of the
Nomad Chapter in Northern California; and other notorious characters. We were housed together on “8
West,” the high max unit of the jail.
On December 29, 2000, I was transported from the Sacramento County main jail to San Quentin State
Prison by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. The trip from Sacramento to San Quentin lasted
about two hours. I was put into a white transportation van in the basement of the jail with belly waist chains,
hands cuffed to my side, and leg irons on my feet.
I was the only inmate on the van, for this was a special, one-way trip to Death Row. There were two
sheriff deputies on t