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If Only Jury Had Seen Killer’s Art

Hey, Mark Wayne Clark!

A jury has just awarded a sicko convict artist like you $8,550. Where will you spend your loot?

Disneyland?

Only after you complete your life sentence, pal.

Clark, 35, is a first-degree killer from the Seattle area. He has been warehoused inside Walla Walla’s sprawling Washington State Penitentiary since his 1985 conviction.

That will remain his address until the felon’s “earned release” date, which arrives in the year 2002.

Until then, Clark will be a convict with some means if last week’s court decision isn’t overturned on appeal.

I hope it is. Should this fiasco stand, it may cost taxpayers upward of $50,000 in damages and legal fees.

A U.S. District Court jury in Spokane found that prison officials interfered with Clark’s First Amendment rights of artistic expression and then retaliated against him after he began making waves.

The penitentiary did make some mistakes.

A hearing officer wrongly told Clark he couldn’t draw any more. Prisoners do have a constitutional right to paper and pen.

Clark also lost a 90-cent-an-hour job and was denied a transfer to a different prison, perhaps as punishment for making waves.

But managing a bunch of criminals is no cakewalk.

Had jurors been allowed to gaze upon the vile artwork that triggered all of this, they might have concluded the case differently.

Unfortunately, Clark’s Seattle lawyer successfully argued to keep his client’s inflammatory drawings from the jury.

That came as a major setback to the defendant’s case, says Martin Wyckoff, one of the state attorneys who defended the prison.

“There’s no doubt in my mind, those pictures were key,” he says. “I’m sure the jurors had no idea the case they were ruling on.”

Let me help.

Clark is an artist all right - if you like looking at naked little girls having sex.

Guards in 1992 discovered and carted off Clark’s crude, but graphic, pen and ink drawings of a naked, pre-pubescent girl engaged in various sexual positions with an adult male.

In one scene a little girl in pigtails performs oral sex. In another she lies on top of the man. A portrait of a young nude girl was confiscated later.

This guy’s a real Picasso, all right.

To be fair, not all of Clark’s artwork is pornographic or even explicit. He does some greeting cards, some unicorns …

Had he kept to that stuff there would be no need for a courtroom.

His sick stuff, however, is dynamite in a prison populated with child molesters and every kind of sex freak imaginable.

No wonder authorities revoked permission for Clark to use special art supplies. No wonder they repeatedly searched his cell.

Officials claim Clark was using his cell as a jailhouse store, trading adult magazines to other inmates for stamps.

“I’m still convinced the officers did nothing wrong,” adds Wyckoff.

Sure, prison officials got in Clark’s face. No question it made him an unhappy camper.

So what. Clark wasn’t beaten or tortured as he probably would have been in the old, less-enlightened days of the penal system.

He may have suffered some inconvenience, but this guy didn’t go to Walla Walla on the taxpayers’ dime to draw dirty pictures or file lawsuits.

He got life for gunning down an unarmed West Seattle hairdresser, Daniel F. Conklin, in cold blood.

Two bullets to the head. One to the chest.

Clark carefully planned the killing and then bragged about what he’d done. He’s lucky he didn’t hang.

At his sentencing, Clark told the judge he would use his time behind bars to better himself.

He’s got about seven years left to make good on that.



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