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Cornell Bunting LLC

Vindicated And Back From The Dead, Author Tells The Tale

After being charged on 16 counts in 2013, Mr. Bunting’s memoir tracks 10 despairing months spent at the Lee County Jail before his accuser admitted at trial that he had lied. “Escaping a Life Sentence” weaves together that story with another major event in his life that took place later, after he had been released from jail and his record expunged. The first chapter recounts having an out-of-body experience while being pronounced dead due to an irregular heartbeat at his place of worship, Next Level Church, as thousands pray for his survival. The book also follows the details of his dissolving marriage, and raising three boys. It’s an inspirational story that finds Mr. Bunting these days a single dad, age 41, and a busy man. He’s living with his boys in Fort Myers, writing and self-publishing prolifically — mainly children’s books and novels — developing video games, working as a bellman at a local resort, as well as a motivational speaker, and becoming a burgeoning Instagram lifestyle influencer with 10,100 followers and a stream of photographs of Mr. Bunting that reveal a photogenic personality and a sharp sense of fashion, whether modeling clothes or a new watch, with his sons, about town at the gym or breakfast or home, a black Infinity SUV often in the background.
Cornell Bunting wrote “Escaping A Life Sentence,” about being jailed for a crime he didn’t commit and about recovering after being pronounced dead. COURTESY PHOTO

Cornell Bunting wrote “Escaping A Life Sentence,” about being jailed for a crime he didn’t commit and about recovering after being pronounced dead. COURTESY PHOTO

Mr. Bunting was born in Jamaica and spent part of his childhood in Bristol, England, with his family before returning to Jamaica to go to high school. He worked for a hotel chain that eventually landed him a job on Captiva Island in 2001 and — after living up North — eventually returned to Southwest Florida following family in 2009, where he formed a security company. Mr. Bunting said he was falsely accused because a business competitor wanted to shut down his company. The accuser had been paid to make up a story about his involvement in a crime.
Fort Myers author Cornell Bunting also is a video game designer, bell hop, motivational speaker, father of three and Instagram influencer. COURTESY PHOTO

Fort Myers author Cornell Bunting also is a video game designer, bellhop, motivational speaker, father of three, and Instagram influencer. COURTESY PHOTO

Mr. Bunting long had literary interests, counting the poet Longfellow among his earliest influences, though he hadn’t produced a lot of writing early. That urge was finally catalyzed during a moment of despair at the Lee County Jail. He had nothing but time to write, it seemed. He was also shunned by his community at the time, who more or less believed the accusations against him. “It was terrible, bro, it was terrifying,” he said. “I didn’t talk a lot. I was very angry. I feel that I was so angry a lot of the guys in there (jail) didn’t bother me. I was disappointed. My heart was broken. It didn’t make sense, man, it was surreal. Here I am trying as a single dad and when everything unfolded, I just couldn’t come up with logical answers to make sense of why.
“For most of it, to be honest with you, I cried a lot, especially when my boys came to visit me and I didn’t know when I was going to be out.” His new memoir came later. He didn’t know when he would release it, but after the Black Lives Matter protests were reignited when George Floyd was killed by police in May, the stories he was hearing began to reflect his own. At the same time, he has felt reluctant to join in the protests themselves, which have in some parts of the country turned violent. “My accuser was believed and protected because of his race,” Mr. Bunting said. For him, it was just the opposite. It’s a discussion he’s had with his boys, the sense that their dark skin could make them automatically suspect or expendable; that if they make a sudden movement around the wrong police officer that could get them shot, that they are “the bottom of the food chain.” “My boys, because they’re watching so much of the media, they feel like their lives don’t matter,” he said, “that they get worse treatment than other races. “I told them that no matter how we look at this as a race that is black, this country was built on slavery; and when you have a foundation a certain way, unless you tear down the foundation, there’s not a whole lot of fixing that can be done, unless everyone says ‘let’s treat these individuals the same way every other race is treated.’ I don’t think that will ever happen, maybe not in my lifetime. It goes back to the way this country was built and the way it was structured.” He published his memoir on June 17 to coincide with the fourth anniversary of when he was pronounced dead by emergency medical workers at Next Level Church. In a dramatic opening scene, Mr. Bunting recounts hovering above himself. “I wanted to go back into my body,” he said. “I wanted to tell the person who had the defibrillator on my chest to stop doing that.”   Mr. Bunting counts 27 children’s books and 16 novels among his work, along with his new memoir. He has several more new novels on the way.

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