The present Cynthia Joiner-Moore wanted most was not under her tree Tuesday morning.
When it is there, when her son, Brandon Joiner, is finally released from prison in the coming weeks, that’s when she’ll celebrate Christmas.
“I thought I was going to see Brandon, but he can’t have visitors on Christmas, so I’ll probably see some relatives, but I’m not opening my gifts until Brandon comes home,” Joiner-Moore said. “I’m going to have Christmas when he comes home.”
Joiner was sentenced to three years in jail for a 2007 robbery and felony drug charges after pleading guilty of the charges in May, shortly after signing an NFL rookie free agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The former Shoemaker standout defensive lineman was granted parole Nov. 13, the week before Thanksgiving, but spent the holidays incarcerated awaiting his release date.
“He’s settled down. He came to the conclusion that he would get out when it’s time. He’s just going to be patient,” Joiner-Moore said of her son’s spirits. “He wants to get out, but he’s OK. He’s just happy that he’s paroled.”
Told in November when Joiner’s parole was granted that a release date could come within 30-60 days, Joiner-Moore remained hopeful that her son would be home in time for Christmas. The news and thoughts of his impending release no doubt gave her something special to be thankful for on Thanksgiving, but the waiting since has been little else but frustrating.
Joiner received his parole certificate on Dec. 18. In most cases, a release date comes seven to 21 days later.
“This is the hardest because you know that it was possible, but his paperwork is keeping him in,” Joiner-Moore said. “It’s frustrating because I call every afternoon to see if he’s any closer and I have to call back every day, first to see if he had his certificate and now, I call to see if he has a release date.”
According to police documents, Joiner and a former teammate at Texas A&M broke into a College Station apartment complex on Nov. 29, 2007, and robbed a known drug dealer at gunpoint, binding him and another man with duct tape and stealing cash, car keys, a cellphone and drugs. A police search at Joiner’s home found marijuana, hydrocodone and Ecstasy.
In 2010, Joiner received 10 years of probation, 60 days in the Brazos County jail and a $1,000 fine in a plea deal that dropped one of two aggravated robbery charges down to robbery. But he was allowed to return to school and an opportunity to graduate from college before being sentenced in the remaining pending charges.
Kicked off the Aggies’ football team following his indictment, Joiner played two seasons at Navarro Junior College in 2008 and 2009, earning NJCAA All-American honors as a sophomore, and signed with Arkansas State in 2010.
Joiner led the Sun Belt Conference with 12 sacks as a senior was voted the conference’s defensive player of the year in 2011 after leading the Red Wolves to a 10-2 record and an undefeated conference championship.
Joiner signed with the Bengals on May 2, three weeks before being sentenced.
“I keep them in touch with any updates that I have and they’re very supportive,” Joiner-Moore said of the Bengals. “They’re still there for him. He definitely feels honored and feels that he will be at home there. He’s grateful for them and their support.”
The Bengals put Joiner on the reserve/did not report list in July, enabling the team to retain his rights. The move also insured that Joiner and his salary didn’t count against the team this season. Joiner is expected to renew his contract with the Bengals when he is released, his mother said.
Joiner-Moore also said her son wants to go fishing when he finally does come home, which won’t be until after the New Year’s holiday.
“He said, ‘I want to spend time with my mommy and go fishing,’” Joiner-Moore said. “And, naturally, he’s ready to be on that field.”
“I’m waiting. I will have a happy new year,” she added. “I’m just happy he’s coming home, even if it’s not in time for Christmas.”