Execution Train on the Fast Track
by Windell Broussard, #999064
LHP President
   

Certainly this year has been fast, the track has been laid, and the death train has arrived here in Huntsville, Texas, with 34 men, including the mentally disadvantaged, the poor, and innocent being killed. This fast track train still has one and a half months left in this year, with more execu1ions planned to raise the number to a high never reached by a single State in the Union.

This year many men whom I had gotten to know were executed. Some I had only heard about, but they were all part of the death-row community in which we live. Some of these were long-time death row prisoners.

They were: Billy Jo Woods -Executed 4- 14-97, some 21 years after his alleged crime. I didn't know him personally, but I have discovered that he lived in one cell for fifteen years and that he was easy to hold a conversation with. Clarence Lackey. Executed 5-20-97, 19 years after his alleged crime. I first met Lackey a few months after arriving here. He was a "porter" on the second shift, and he always treated me with respect and liked to joke around. I though to myself, he was very tall and with his height perhaps he was a good basketball player. I never got the opportunity to play ball with Lackey , but I've heard he was a good ball player. Larry White - Executed 5-22-97, 18 years after his alleged crime. I never did meet Larry but I have heard that long ago he had a prison store and the guards ran in on him and took it away. After this Larry stayed mostly to himself.

The fast track death-train began with Richard Brimage - Executed 2.10-97. When I first heard the Richard planned to drop his appeals, I was really taken aback. I knew Richard had personal problems, but he had won a reversal, then the Court reversed itself and took the reversal away. So things must have overwhelmed him, thus he dropped his appeals. The next month brought one execution. John Barefield - Executed 3. 13.97. I met John out at the Garment Factory, and he seemed like a straightforward person.

April was me wake up call for everyone on Texas death row. From the point, things took a downward spiral for death row prisoners -no matter what stage of the appeals process they were at. Just about everybody was talking about the filing deadlines of April 24, 1997, the new habeas corpus laws, AKA Anti- terrorist and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. Lawyers, most of whom had never filed a writ before, were under great pressure to file incomplete writs and some lawyers didn't file any at all. Yes, April brought along 6 executions, the first of which was David Herman - Executed 4-2-97. I knew Big Herman and we mostly talked about the direction the LHP was heading. I had much respect for his opinions. The following day came David Spence (Waco) - Executed 4-3-97. I knew Waco and he worked for Mr. Henry out at the Garment Factory. Kenneth Gentry - Executed 4- 16-97. I only knew Gentry for a short while. I have heard he was respected by fellow death row prisoners. Benjamin Boyle -Executed 4-21-97. I have seen Benjamin passing by the wing on which I lived and I asked, who he was, and learned that he was a very good artist who could make his work stand out with the different colors he would use. Earnest Baldree -Executed 4-29-97.

May brought 8 executions. Terry Washington -5-6-97, Anthony "Big Black" Westley -Executed 5-13-97. I personally knew Black from the day I arrived here. We would play basketball together and I could call him a friend. When he had gotten an execution date, I knew I had to go early to see him because I didn't want it to be a sad time. I do remember that he would look out for me on the food side when I didn't have anything to eat. It was hard on a lot of people here, including some of the guards, when Black was executed. Clifton Belyue - Executed 5-16-97. Richard Drinkard - Executed 5-19-97. I didn't know Richard, but Michael Sharp is a good judge of people and he spoke highly of him. Bruce Callins -Executed 5-21-97. I used to see Bruce in the window across the hall from my wing. He was a barber who could give fade haircuts. Robert Madden -5-28-97 -I didn't realize that Robert Madden was " Junior". All I ever knew him by was Junior and this affected me because I missed the opportunity to say goodbye to someone I really liked to talk with - Peace my friend.

June, as May, brought 8 more executions. Patrick Rodgers-El- executed 6-2-97. I knew Rodgers-El and we had respect between us. I do know that Rodgers-EI spoke his mind -peace my brother . Kenny Harris -Executed 6-3.97. Kenny was well-liked by all who knew him. We worked together for several years out at the Garment Factory. He was part of the crew who made things run smoothly while having fun doing so; we miss you Big Brother. Dorsie Johnson and Davis Losada, both executed 6.4-97. These two men were put to death and broke the previous record for the most executions in a one-year period since Capital Punishment was resumed 21 years ago. Earl Behringer -Executed 6-11-97. Behringer didn't say too much. I would see him just about every day on my way to work, because I had to pass through the wing he lived on to get to the Garment Factory, and Behringer was a porter on that particular wing. Also I would see him at church on Saturday mornings. David Stoker -Executed 6- 16-97. I would call him Stok'er, I would walk and talk with him out in the flex yard, usually till Roy Knox, his riding buddy, came out. Let's Rock-n-Roll. Eddie Johnson - Executed 6-17-97. Eddie was mostly to himself and I really didn't hear much about him. He wasn't in the "program" that I know of and I never heard anything bad about him; he certainly was low-keyed. Ireneo Montoya -Executed 6-18-97. I had come to know Montoya personally and I have much love and respect for him. He had great influence among his fellow Mexican death-row prisoners. One thing's for sure, if Montoya gave you his word to help, he would go out of his way. Much Love, my friend.

July we only had one execution. Robert West Executed 7-29-97. I really did not know Robert personally. I have heard that he was a hard-liner, didn't take nothing from anybody, and stayed most of his time on death row in deep lock-up and, at times, in solitary confinement - once where I had to send his birthday card. West wasn't the type to apologize to anybody under any circumstance. I had heard that he apologized to the victims' family. I must admit, he truly meant what he said because I have never heard anyone saying West has apologized.

August brought some relief from all the executions, but we still saw death on the row that month. James Gunter (suicide) - 8-24-97. No one would have thought that James would have taken his own life; I was in total disbelief after knowing him.

September brought four executions. James Davis -Executed 9-9-97. I only knew Davis because the year before his case put a Moratorium on the Death Penalty here in Texas. Jessel Turner (Three-Sixty) -Executed 9-22-97. I thought of Three-Sixty as a friend, he treated me well. Also he was good in chess and I was never able to win a game against him. He played basketball very well. He would do the Three-Sixty on the court and every time we would play together and "Big Tex" was playing, you could expect rex to start a good-natured argument with Three-Sixty. Peace my Big Brother. Benjamin Stone - Executed 9-25-97. We didn't know much about Stone, other than he arrived here April 25, 1997 and he was 43 years old and dropped his appeals and his stay was the shortest on death row. The previous record was George Lott, #999058. Johnny W. Cockrum -Executed 9-30-97. I knew J. C when I first arrived here. I remember back in 1993, he wanted to drop his appeals - but his attorneys fought against his wishes, citing that he was unable to make that call. J.C. treated me with respect and he knew a lot about the Bible. Peace.

October was three executions. Dwight Adanandus Executed 10.1.97. Everybody called him "Papa". I knew of Dwight, but I never met him personally; only saw him a few times while I was on G-13 when their group would go out to the yard. The last time I heard anything about him, was the guards searched his cell, and threw his religious books around, and afterward he went to lock-up for the rest of his time here. Ricky Green -Executed 10-8-97. I met Ricky when I first arrived on H-19 work capable. I must say he was a good handball player and was very competitive. I did spend a few weeks with him before he had to go to lock-up; I really liked Ricky .Kenneth "Pony" Ransom -Executed 10-28-97. I didn't know Ransom personally, but I used to see him passing by my wing and he had very long hair. He was respected by all that knew him.

November has brought the execution of two close friends. Aua Lauti -Executed 11-4-97. I knew Big Aua very well and he would like to sit out on the yard along with Mr. Burns and several others to eat Jack-Mack right out of the can. I had the opportunity to speak with Big Aua because he thought enough about me to want me to visit with him. We talked about his family and how much it meant that they have been with him and loved him still. That was really important to him. Two days later, Aaron Fuller . Executed 11-6-97. When I found out that Fuller-man wanted to visit with me, it really made me feel great. I always knew that we were all right and that proved he thought of me as a friend and that he was watching my walk with Christ. He told me that was why he called me. I explained to him that we all have faults, that some people show them and others don't and we prayed together for God's grace. We also worked together and played chess and basketball. I'll miss you. Fuller-man.

I would be hard to mention everybody in the limited space I have available. I knew most of these men and they are certainly in my thoughts and memories.

Well, I know that perhaps others will have different views of all these executed men. And that is quite alright because we should remember them all the way we remember them the best. What I am trying to do, is put a human face on the men who I have come to know and respect. This year isn't over yet, and one of my best friends is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas. He is Mike Sharp, who is mainly responsible for my involvement with The Lamp of Hope Project -without which, I probably would not be writing about my fellow death row prisoners who have met untimely deaths.

Peace