LETHAL INJECTION

by shane patrick boyle

Daily Cougar Staff

Whenever a death row inmate receives a great deal of media attention, as Gary Graham has, much public attention is focused on issues of the judicial system.

The average person learns very little about the state laws pertaining to a case or the judicial process just from watching the television reports.

The process begins, of course, with a crime and an alleged perpetrator.

As in any criminal case, a jury makes a judgement as to whether they think the suspect is guilty or innocent. And then they decide on the sentencing.

If the crime is a capital felony, the sentence will either be life in prison–a sentence of which the inmate can serve no less than 35 calendar years before parole.

Or the death penalty.

The crime of murder is not automatically considered a capital felony.

Capital felonies include killing a police officer or fireman who is performing the duty of that position at the time, intentional murder committed in the course of another felony, a murder for hire, murder of a penal system employee while incarcerated or in the process of escaping, murdering more than one person during the same crime or murdering more than one person while following the same course of action.

As of this month, murdering a child under 12 is also a capital felony. Rape, once considered a capital offense, has since been reduced to a lesser felony.

In order to give the death penalty for a capital offense, the jury must answer several questions. Did the perpetrator act intentionally? Is there a probability the defendant will commit future acts that constitute a menace to society? Was the conduct reasonable in response to the provocation, if any?

If the jury answers no to any of the questions, the penalty is a life sentence.

Male inmates sentenced to death are housed in the Ellis I Unit of the Texas Department of Corrections, 16 miles northwest of Huntsville.

Their female counterparts are housed in the Mountainview Unit in Gatesville, Texas. There have been five women on death row in Texas. Currently, there are two. No woman, however, has ever been executed in the state.

Death row inmates have access to television, magazines, books and legal documents. They are also allowed to take correspondence courses as Graham has done.

The amount of time spent on death row can vary. The longest amount of time spent on death row before execution is 6,114 days (16.75 years) by Jerry Joe Bird. Richard Adrape spent the least amount of time. He was executed after 769 days (2.1 years).

The appeals process can be used to delay the execution, and has been successfully used in some cases (such as Clarence Brandley) to get inmates off death row.

There are three stages of death penalty appeals. They are the initial trial and direct appeal, the state habeas corpus proceedings and federal habeas corpus proceedings.

There are three steps of litigation at each stage–totalling a maximum of nine steps for an appeal.

A defendant does not necessarily go through all nine. It is up to each court in the ladder to decide whether to hear the appeal of the lower court.

Appeals that involve new evidence, however, should be introduced within 30 days of conviction.

The decision in the case of <I>Herrera vs. Collins<P> set a precedent that the state does not have to hear claims of innocence based on evidence–no matter how convincing–introduced more than 30 days after conviction.

An inmate who runs out of appeals without getting off death row will eventually be executed.

The only process of execution currently practiced in Texas is lethal injection. This consists of injecting the condemned with a solution of Sodium Triopental (a lethal dose), Pancuronium Bromide (a muscle relaxant), and Potassium Chloride (to stop the heart).

At a cost $71.50 for the chemicals, it is one of the more inexpensive methods. This method was first introduced in Texas and is currently used in 24 states.

Nationally, the electric chair is still the most common. The most uncommon methods are firing squad and hanging. Firing squads are a legal method in Idaho and Utah. Hangings still take place in Delaware and Washington. These four states also use the lethal injection method.

Lethal injection has been the method prescribed by Texas law since 1976, the year the death penalty was reinstated. Between 1924 and 1972, the year the Texas Supreme ruled that the death penalty was cruel and unusual punishment, executions were performed by electric chair.

The original site of the electric chair–nicknamed "Old Sparky"–was located behind the chapel in the Huntsville unit.

Today, the executions are performed elsewhere in the Huntsville unit.

The inmate receives a last meal between 6:30 and 7 p.m. the night before the execution, and showers and dresses in clean clothes before midnight.

Transport arrangements are not made public.

The visitors the condemned may have to the execution are TDC chaplains, ministers, counsel, family members and approved friends. Approved media including one representative from the Huntsville Item, one representative each from United Press International and the Associated Press Texas bureaus and one representative each from other approved news entities are also allowed to witness.

The inmate, strapped to a gurney, is given the option of making a last statement. After the last statement, the warden says, "We are ready," and an unidentified medical professional, hidden from view of the witnesses, inserts the poisonous catheter.

After expiration and the examination of the body, the corpse is immediately sent to a prearranged funeral home.

The inmate's and society's ordeal is then over.

 

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MEMBERS OUTRAGED AT SALARIES

by Rivka Gewirtz

Daily Cougar Staff

On the heels of a Faculty Senate resolution to abolish intercollegiate athletics, another was passed requesting that the UH administration make the median salaries of academic faculty equivalent to those of professors at comparable universities.

Recently, the Athletic Department conducted a survey of head coaches at other universities to aid in determining the salaries for head football coach Kim Helton and head basketball coach Alvin Brooks. As a result of the survey, Brooks received a raise of $50,000 and Helton a raise of $29,200 plus market-generated income of up to $120,000.

The Faculty Senate requested that the administration perform the same type of poll for them and approve similar salary increases.

"(The resolution) expresses our outrage that the university appears to consider the salaries of football and basketball coaches, in relation to their peers, more important than the salaries of faculty members in relation to our peers," said Economics Professor David Papell.

The resolution asks that salaries reach a comparable median "for the forthcoming academic year."

Receiving loud applause from the faculty, Papell offered a "friendly" amendment to the resolution, which was accepted, asking that the sports coaches not get their raises until the money is available to upgrade the faculty median salary.

Law Professor Steve Huber does not believe the resolution should have been introduced. Huber said the first vote, abolishing intercollegiate athletics, should be honored, making it impossible for any sports raises to occur.

Several other professors said they believed that raises should be granted to faculty before athletics receives any more money.

"We have to consider that there is a very large group here, called staff, that is vital to us. I think their morale right now is really very, very low. We are talking about the colleges and their pay raises, but look at someone making minimum wage," said Henry Chafetz, a geosciences professor.

Faculty and staff received a raise of 3 percent last year. The raise was implemented at the state level and affected all Texas state employees.

Faculty Senate President George Reiter made the point that his salary has only gone up about 10 percent in the 12 years he has been with the university.

A count of hands was not taken to show how many faculty members were in favor of the resolution.

"The show of hands for it was overwhelming. We did not have to count," said Reiter.

In a press release written before the passing of this resolution, UH President James Pickering said, "The Athletic Department reports directly to the president, and the president sets the tone for the program and all its financial parameters, including salaries. I am ultimately responsible for their successes or failures."

The resolution will be sent to Pickering for approval. Pickering could not be reached for final comment.

 

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THE FACTS OF DEATH

Thurgood's Legacy

Late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was one of the staunchest opponents of the death penalty in the history of the court. He was always on the dissenting side in cases where a majority ruled against a death row inmate. For example, he authored at least two dissenting opinions in 1990, including the case of <I>Boyde v. California<P> and <I>Whitmore v. Arkansas<P>.

He wrote that any subsequent opinions on the matter adhered to his view that "the death penalty is in all circumstances cruel and unusual punishment."

Vital Stats

At age 19, Cedric Ransom is the youngest inmate on death row in Huntsville. Clifford Phillips is the oldest at 59. Daniel Corwin, one of only a few serial killers on death row, was convicted under the serial killer statute. Robert Excell White has excelled at avoiding the needle–he has been on death row since Aug. 26, 1974.

No Fanfare

Ruben Cantu, 26, sat less than 40 feet from Gary Graham on Wednesday, Aug. 18, in the interview room. On Aug. 24, Cantu was executed. When asked if he had a final statement, he said, "No, sir," and shook his head. In 1985, at age 18, he was the youngest person on death row. He continued to insist he was innocent of a murder in San Antonio. He died seven minutes after the solution was administered.

Mr. Attorney General

Is Attorney General Dan Morales a racist? Yes, say Graham supporters who accuse him and District Attorney Johnny Holmes of racism because both officials worked to prevent Graham from getting another stay. However, Morales, who has said Graham is undoubtedly guilty, recently met with Graham's supporters.

Why not Jeffrey?

Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer does not have to pay with his life for the crimes to which he plead guilty. In 1991, he admitted to killing 15 people in Milwaukee, Wis. Despite the heinous crimes, shrines of bones and skulls and lobotomies, he will spend his life in prison.

Why? Because Wisconsin does not have a death penalty. By contrast, in Bangladesh, where 18-year-old Eliadah McCord was convicted of smuggling heroin, the death penalty was administered for his offense.

Painful Deaths

Executions have long been a form of punishment. Over the centuries, manners of execution have ranged from death by firing squad to splitting the abdomen open and pulling out the intestines to attaching a prisoner's extremities to four horses and letting the horses run.

 

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COUNCILS SPLIT ON HISTORY CLASS

by Tammy Gamble

Daily Cougar Staff

Same history course, different classroom. At least that's the decision of the UH Coordinating Board.

Because of a discrepancy in teaching requirements, students taking American history will now have the option of sitting in a classroom or combining the classroom learning with lab work. The board said the history class had to be renamed to accommodate the two different ways it is being taught.

An Undergraduate Council committee will be appointed to oppose the proposal by the board. The council wants to allow the History Department to teach the history course in a lecture-lab format, in addition to the existing strictly lecture format. However, they don't want to change the name.

The Coordinating Board requires that core courses be taught in only one format. The problem arose in the spring semester when students registering for the lecture-lab format during priority registration were being over-charged. The problem was corrected; however, the History Department had to assign separate course numbers to each format.

Dr. Lawrence Curry, assistant dean of Humanities and Fine Arts and Communication would prefer to return to the old system of having students enrolling in the lecture-lab format choose from a list of labs in the course book.

In the Wednesday meeting, council Chair Sam Quintero also announced that President James Pickering will address the council on Oct. 6 and hear any concerns members have about the university.

 

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EXPERT SAYS YELTSIN BEST FOR DEMOCRACY

by Yonca Poyraz-Dogan

Daily Cougar Staff

Russian President Boris Yeltsin astounded the world Tuesday in a televised speech in which he dissolved Parliament because it blocked his economic and political reforms.

The Parliament declared Yeltsin's moves unconstitutional and voted in Vice President Alexander Rutskoi as an acting president.

Was Yeltsin's action democratic?

"Yes and no. It is not democratic in the sense of that violation of the constitution," said Joseph Nogee, a political science professor and expert on Russian politics.

Nogee said despite the controversy over Yeltsin's status, he offers the best prospect for democracy. He said Yeltsin had to dismiss the Parliament to introduce a democratic Parliament and initiate reforms.

"Clinton should emphasize that we support Yeltsin because his spirit has been democratic although his action was not constitutional," said Richard Thorpe, a Russian history professor.

Thorpe said such an unconstitutional move would be condemned by the United States if it wasn't coming from Yeltsin, who is vital to U.S. interests.

However, Nogee said the constitution that Yeltsin is violating is not a democratic constitution. It was imposed on people by the communist government, he added.

"In order to change the constitution, constitutionally, he needs the Parliament's support, but the majority of the Parliament is opposed to economic reforms," said Nogee, who wrote or edited six books on Soviet politics and is co-authoring a book on Russian government.

The Parliament had once backed Yeltsin. Now they don't. In April, a national referendum showed that the public endorsed Yeltsin's programs. Do Russians still support him?

"Yeltsin is still popular. I talked with my wife, who is in Moscow, yesterday and she said people were at home and were watching movies," said Andrei Kashubsky, a first year graduate student in geophysics.

Kashubsky said he came from Russia in August to continue his education.

The Russian Constitutional Court supported the Parliamentary delegates' action to impeach Yeltsin. The Parliament's Chairman Ruslan Khasbulatov called all servicemen, policemen and employees of the security ministry for a national strike.

On the other hand, Yeltsin called for parliamentary elections in December. A few thousand people gathered and shouted slogans calling for a return to communism in Moscow.

 

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FACULTY VOTES TO ABOLISH ATHLETICS

by Rivka Gewirtz

Daily Cougar Staff

Executive administrators and students packed the Kiva in Farish Hall Wednesday to watch the Faculty Senate vote to abolish intercollegiate athletics.

The vote, which passed 25 to 15 with one abstention, came after presentations were made by UH President James Pickering, Athletics Director Bill Carr and many faculty members -- most of whom stood against athletics.

Many of the faculty senators expressed concern over salary parity. Recently football and basketball coaches received raises of up to $50,000. The last raise that academic faculty received was a state-implemented upgrade of 3 percent.

"I've been here for 12 years, my salary has gone up by about 10 percent," said George Reiter, president of the Faculty Senate.

Some of the faculty who supported the anti-intercollegiate athletics resolution believe they are standing on the side of the majority of UH students. Professors don't think students want 35 percent of all their service fees to go toward supporting athletics said Robert Palmer, a history professor.

"You say students are willing to support it. Athletics are not by choice. If you said you can pay the $65 to athletics or you can pay it to the library, do you really think (students) would be checking off the athletics in the majority of instances?" he asked.

"They would be voting to increase funds for the library. Many more people go to the library than to the football games. The library needs the money a hell of a lot more than athletics," he said.

Professor of Sociology Janet Chafetz said that students who work hard and don't have time for sports should not have to pay money to support the department. She compared the Athletics Department to a city council that would make citizens pay extra taxes to support the Houston Oilers if ticket revenues could not cover expenses.

Economics Professor David Papell, who voted against the resolution, said he doesn't believe the Faculty Senate will have any impact on the administration's decision to actually abolish intercollegiate athletics.

"Given the choice, I would rather teach at a university that does not have a big time athletic program," said Papell.

"The problem is it's not going to happen. We can vote to eliminate intercollegiate athletics from now until the cows come home and there would still be a division one athletic program at the University of Houston," said Papell

"We should attempt to express our outrage at how the program has been run and what should be done with this program in a more constructive way. We should continue putting pressure on the administration and the Athletic Department to have a program that has priorities we would like to see," he said.

Faculty Senate President-elect Ernst Leiss said the Athletics Department should have to prove themselves by having minimum graduation rates and academic standards. He also believes that the Athletic Department, which has been running on a deficit, should be financially self-supportive.

The final decision rests with the Board of Regents once they have received a recommendation from Pickering.

Pickering said he is pleased that this type of open discussion is happening on campus, but that he does not want the program eliminated.

"I do disagree with the 25 senators who voted to eliminate the program, who evidently do not believe an athletic department of the highest quality can happen here. I believe it can, and I believe that we have the right people to do it. I believe they deserve the chance," said Pickering.

While a new athletic director and a new football coach have been hired, former assistant football coach Steve Staggs said UH will not "straighten out" its act. He believes scandals within the department will continue.

"I have information that I have submitted to the NCAA that supports allegations that they have been breaking rules for the past five years. Bill Carr and all his people are good old boys. The department won't be cleaned up, it will be covered up," said Staggs, who recently turned over more than 800 documents to the NCAA. "They need someone who has proved his principles, will be honest and will follow rules," he said.

Despite the on-going NCAA investigation, Carr believes his department will be supported by more students and faculty as it improves.

"We want to encourage students to do the best they can. I can understand that other people have grievances. Our effort and ultimate productivity will show," said Carr, admitting that a great program costs money to build.

Reiter said the next step will be to initiate a study to determine whether the majority of students support intercollegiate athletics.

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DIRECTOR TAKES ON ASIAN STEREOTYPES

by Andrew Nicolaou

Daily Cougar Staff

It certainly cannot be said that director Wayne Wang shies away from a challenge.

Wang's latest film, <I>The Joy Luck Club<P>, is an attempt to do much more than an adaptation of Amy Tan's best-selling novel of the same name. The film showcases the prowess of a wide-range of virtually unknown Asian-American actresses and actors in family-oriented and unconventional roles -- for Hollywood, that is.

Wang, whose first name is a nod by his father to John Wayne, was born in Hong Kong where he lived until attending college in California, which resulted in a master's in film and television. In 1974, he returned to Hong Kong, with a hankering for Western movies, and found work directing a television series. He left months later due to, what he now phrases as, "creative frustration."

"I was a young man with a lot of ideals," he said during a recent stop in Houston to promote his new film. "I wanted to make great movies. I went back to Hong Kong and worked in a soap opera drama series. Every day was just like the last and I tried to change things ... and they fired me."

Upon returning to the United States, Wang found a role for himself in community activism addressing immigrants' problems. Several years later in 1982, Wang made the first of the six movies he has directed.

The movies have been diverse, ranging from the 1989 screwball comedy <I>Eat a Bowl of Tea<P> to 1990's <I>Life is Cheap...But Toilet Paper is Expensive<P>, an experimental samurai analogy-noir thriller.

His second film, <I>Dim Sum<P>, focused on the relationship between a Chinese mother and her American-born daughter. That theme is also addressed in <I>The Joy Luck Club<P> with its four pairs of mothers and daughters all struggling to find a common ground. Wang admits that he is very conscious of the divergence of both films' themes.

"When I first made <I>Dim Sum<P> -- this is a pure coincidence -- I tried to make it a story about four mothers and four daughters and they all play mahjong, but the script was not very good," he said. "It's very difficult to make a movie about eight people, and I changed it to just making it about one mother and one daughter, so there is something that I didn't finish there.

"When I read Amy's book I said, 'Boy, this is what I didn't finish before -- it's fate'," Wang said, laughing. "I tried it once before and I failed, so now I'm going to do it right.

"That's why I was very strong about wanting all four mother-daughter pairs," he added. "<I>Dim Sum<P> became the prelude to this movie."

One facet of <I>The Joy Luck Club<P> that Wang seems especially proud of -- and that Disney, the studio releasing the film, is playing up -- is its treatment of Chinese and Chinese-Americans. Many critics and insiders note that this is one of the first major movies which lacks the stereotypes that are alleged to be the norm in Hollywood

"I don't know if anything could be without stereotypes, but I think my film has fewer stereotypes than any other Hollywood film. I can say that for sure," Wang said. "There are so many different women in this film and all of them are real flesh and blood characters.

"They're not Suzie Wongs, they're not laundry ladies, and they're not working in a restaurant."

While Wang seems pleased at the attention being given to the film for its refusal to perpetuate any long-time stereotypes, he rejected any ideas that the concept was given the go-ahead by Disney simply because it could increase the film's profit potential .

"I don't know that Disney consciously thought we were going to make this movie that gets away from stereotypes," he said. "I think they read the script and were very moved by it and they wanted to make a strong, emotional movie, so I don't know if it was a conscious step on their part."

The film's director also seems pleased at the opportunities the movie afforded much of its cast, especially when three of the principal actresses in the movie (Tsai Chin, Lisa Lu, and France Nuyen) have all performed the lead in <I>The World of Suzie Wong<P> at various points in their acting careers.

"The producers always say 'you can't find enough actors and actresses to make this story'," Wang said. "I've heard this many, many times and this film is strong proof that there are just terrific actresses out there. I think all of the actresses were happy to be doing such meaty and real roles rather than Suzie Wong. They can identify these characters so well.

"Kieu Chinh, who portrays Suyuan, had to leave Vietnam and has a story that's very tragic and very similar to that of the role she is playing," he added.

It remains to be seen if Wayne Wang has cleared all the obstacles lying in front of him as he made <I>The Joy Luck Club<P>. That question remains unanswered .

<B>Part Two: The challenges in making<P> <I>The Joy Luck Club<P>.

 

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GLORIOUS VIDEO GOREFEST DEFIES BELIEF

by Frank San Miguel

Daily Cougar Staff

Something in every person yearns for the grisly. Perhaps it’s the raw and primal exhilaration that comes from soaking up danger, even in the comfort of your car or home.

In any case, that quest for the sometimes brutal leads us down many paths, even to the circus.

<I>The Jim Rose Circus Sideshow<P> is a 35-minute video of the gorefest piloted by Rose that plagued 1992’s Lollapalooza. This performance, filmed in Seattle in February, captures Rose and friends during their exploits, which are among the most amazing you’ll ever see.

The show is a take on the classic circus sideshow, complete with Rose as seedy barker and fellow freak. He warms up the crowd by putting nails into his nose and later has an audience member stand on his head as he lies facedown in a pile of glass.

Sunday school fodder, this one isn’t.

Flesh-skewering by The Torture King and chowing down on live crickets and earthworms by The Enigma is only a tease. Rose is the excitable sadist to the dark display, flipping the switch to make the mood even edgier.

The Amazing Mr. Lifto is the show’s gender-bending favorite, who always garners the biggest cheers. His claim to fame is 11 body piercings, including ears, nipples, tongue and penis. Such ornamentation is not incredibly unusual until you see exactly what he does with it.

Taking the stage, Lifto shows off what Rose calls the next fashion craze–iron earrings. True enough, dangling from Lifto’s ears are two rather heavy-looking clothes irons.

With each of his piercings, Lifto earns his name by lifting weights with his assortment of mutilations. Watching Lifto hoist a concrete block, with a heavy chain, by his nipples is agonizing enough. As a follow-up, Rose eggs Lifto on in a teeth-gritting, although anticlimactic, demonstration with his penile hole and an iron.

Matt "The Tube" Crowley has, arguably, the grossest, though most riveting performance: shoving seven- feet of tubing into his nose and, with the aid of Rose, pouring a concoction of beer, chocolate, catsup and, down his gullet. Crowley lets the nectar congeal a bit, then spews it out into a container via the same tube.

Ever the huckster, Rose is quick to tempt the crowd with what he calls "bile beer," and gets more than enough takers to swig down a mug of the piquant drink.

Watching <I>The Jim Rose Circus Sideshow<P> is a study into our own values. As Rose comments at the show’s beginning, the goal is to provide entertainment that is undeniably real. He delivers. <I>The Jim Rose Circus Sideshow<P> is as raw as an exposed nerve and just as jumpy.

Even the most cynical cannot help but bubble in a combination of revulsion and fascination; the twinge that comes with the realization that what’s on the screen is not hocus-pocus but the result of excruciating trial and error. It is sickening sometimes, but, true to his word, Rose promises that you can’t ignore the compulsion to watch.

In many ways, <I>The Jim Rose Circus Sideshow<P> doesn’t entirely live up to the hype accorded this pack of societal cast-offs, probably because they aren’t given the time to do half the things Rose says they can. Nevertheless, the show is something to see at least once -- painful though may it be.

 

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VOICES AGAINST VIOLENCE

by Ericka Schiche

Daily Cougar Staff

For Pam Lychner, it could have been just another evening as a grocery store cashier.

"I was robbed at a grocery store when I was 15, I was the cashier. They told me they were going to blow my brains out if I didn't move fast enough and give them all the money."

It happened almost 20 years ago, but Lychner, 34, recalls the incident as if it happened just last week. Founder of Justice For All, a citizens' rights organization that opposes Gary Graham, she is adamant about the need for hearts of flesh, not stone, in the criminal justice system.

She has been sexually harassed; accosted in a hotel elevator. She wore the victim label well.

"Three years ago, I was attacked by a man, here in Houston, in the process of doing my job as a realtor. He was attempting to rape me and kill me, probably. He had a blanket laid out in the back of the truck, with the back of the truck open. He had a knife, he had duct tape and he had a lighter."

Lychner has a cold, penetrating stare that would make even Medea nervous. Her blue eyes are two of many focused on the Board of Pardons and Paroles and Graham.

Justice For All derives its mission partly from a statement made by King Solomon: "Justice will only be achieved when those who are not injured by crime feel as indignant as those who are." The group solicited petition signatures from more than 5,000 people who believe Graham is guilty of murdering Bobby Grant Lambert.

Rick Sanford, a member of the group, quoted Graham as saying, "I've killed six people already, if you want to be number seven do something stupid."

Lisa Blackburn, Graham's rape and robbery victim, says he told her, "I have already killed three people and I'm going to kill you. You don't mean nothing to me bitch" and that "I'm going to f– you in the ears and the eyes and every place else."

Robbery victim Craig Jones, who says Graham attempted to murder him, quotes him as saying, "I'm just a hustler."

All of these people bring out Lychner's motherly instincts. She says her goal is to guide and protect crime survivors. Her group exposes, what she terms, 19 false claims made by Graham and his supporters. Among the claims she disputes are the distance, lighting at the crime scene, the claim of alibis and the claim that jurors were made aware of his previous crimes at trial.

She is unwavering in her assertion that he should not be granted any more reprieves. Her voice never quavers. Graham supporters, such as Minister Robert Muhammad, who claim the system is racist, come up against a wall when they meet her.

But beneath her steely exterior is a mother. Her small office contains, a fax machine, file cabinets, a desk, a phone; and a white kiddie-sized table covered with crayons.

"It doesn't have to be as extreme as a murder for you to feel as violated," she says. "When you are the victim of a crime and you survive that crime, you then have a different type of fear. Not that it's greater or worse or less or whatever, it's just different because you have been violated and you have seen a man turn from a nice person -- and I'm going to say 'man' because mine have only been men, but I know that women can do the same thing -- into a monster in a split second. And once you witness that, you will never forget it."

She founded the group in mid-July and subsequently befriended Bernadine Skillern, the witness who identified Graham as Lambert's killer.

Skillern, in contrast, is often a portrait in despair and apprehension. She is afraid that Graham supporters, namely the Rev. Jew Don Boney, will make her life even more miserable.

She has since moved and seems to view the school where she works as a place of refuge from the outside world.

<I>The tragically mistaken.<P>

Skillern so abhors the label that she makes a point to discuss it and its implications at length.

"I guess my rebuttal to that is, if you walk down an alley or if you're walking on the street and no one is around and someone shoots you and causes you harm and you later identify them ... you're the only witness. Am I right?"

She says the crime occurred 22 paces from her car and that she heard an indescribable sound. Later, she followed the killer on, what she calls, a well-lit parking lot. He walked briskly.

"... he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness."

She went to theological school and says people are quoting Deuteronomy 17:6 out of context and that people no longer have to live under Old Testament law.

On television, she is often seen on the verge of tears, shaking her head, looking quite exposed. Quite defenseless.

"In the past few weeks or months, I have been, I guess, perplexed that things have turned out this way. That I witnessed a murder 12 years ago and, all of a sudden, it's in your face and people are calling you a liar. They call you a liar respectfully by saying 'tragically mistaken, but well meaning,' -- that's still a lie. I saw a lie."

While at her old house, when people knocked at the door, she had a flutter, wondering "Who is this now?"

She says Graham has opened too many doors in the Texas criminal justice system.

"There is nothing that a mini-trial could say or do in Mr. Graham's behalf that would be right. Mr. Graham shot and killed someone, he was tried and found guilty by his peers, he was assessed a penalty and to give him another trial is like saying that something went haywire, someone lied or something was wrong. There was nothing wrong. Mr. Mock (Graham's then attorney) interrogated me so that I was fearful of him."

She is able to manage, but only through the grace of God, she says, in reference to the uninvited phone calls and people.

"At some point, we must realize that we must make criminals as afraid of us as we are of them, no matter what the means. You have to stand up with integrity and fight back," she says.

She saw the perpetrator and the victim talking and later blew the horn after she saw the shooting.

As an education professional, she finds the latest developments in the case distressing.

"As a matter of fact, I wish that all of the time and money that was put into the Gary Graham situation–if all those people had that kind of time and money to put into our schools–we would have so few Gary Grahams by the time they finish high school," she says.

Both Lychner and Skillern say they are not supporters of the death penalty per se.

But they are voices against violence.

Especially at grocery stores.

 

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<I>WILD WOMEN<P> AT FIREHOUSE

by shane patrick boyle

Daily Cougar Staff

A map, penciled on wood, with history-book-style drawings, depicting various colonization campaigns, forms the background. Pumpkin seeds, glued to the map, mark a trail.

A large, phallic, dried squash spews out the seeds. On the squash are the words: "And so our heroes conquest begins."

The title of the piece is "Imperial Fertilization," and the artist is Sabra Booth.

It is part of an exhibit in Montrose's Firehouse Gallery (1413 Westheimer) called <I>Wild Women Art Savage<P>.

The exhibit, which opened Sept. 10, is a project of the Houston Women's Caucas for Art, the group that operates the gallery.

HWCA is the local chapter of the Women's Art Caucus, a national organization with more than 35 chapters. The goal of the organization, according to their mission statement, is to "support equal opportunity and visibility for women's work."

They "are a committed forum for education, contemporary social issues, cultural diversity and freedom of artistic expression."

The Firehouse Gallery, so-named because the building used to be a small fire station, serves this end. The gallery also serves as an alternative space for art exhibits that emphasizes works by women about women's issues.

Although HWCA has been active since 1978, the Firehouse Gallery first opened in 1983 with a dedication by, then-Mayor Kathy Whitmire.

Exhibits there have included works by local and national artists including Annie Liebowitz.

Topics covered include: "Does Government Funding = Censorship?" (co-sponsored with Rice University's Sewall Gallery in 1989) and "Women Taking a Stand: What Have We Got to Lose?" (in 1992).

The gallery has also participated in the citywide extravaganza FotoFest.

<I>Wild Women Art Savage<P> features works by HWCA members. A variety of themes and artistic mediums are represented. There are sculptures, drawings, paintings, collages and mixed-media pieces.

"On the Eve of Greatness" by Elisa Alvarado shows a stuffed body bag the size of a small child. On the bag, there are words of mourning for dreams snuffed out before they've matured.

A piece by UH alumna Ann Webb is a multi-colored line-design called, "Too Many Directions at Once."

A paper-mache work, titled "Betrayed," by Janet Chilson, depicts a theater-style mask breaking in half as lightning strikes it.

"Cyclops," by Debra Rueb, is a photo of an obese woman glamorously posed.

Collages by Babara Lines and Vivian Lee, a UH sophomore in journalism, make their statements by combining news clippings and other found objects.

Lines' piece is a collection of news clippings and other souvenirs from the Reagan and Bush years, including buttons with slogans such as, "We shall overcome Reagan." The piece is titled, "Twelve Years of Christmas."

Lee's piece is a photo on a backdrop of headlines. The picture depicts a nude woman with a picture of George Bush over one breast and a picture of Bill Clinton over the other. The text on the photo says, "They want to control your body, soul, and mind." It is also the title of the work.

These are only a few of the interesting works you will see in the <I>Wild Women Art Savage<P> exhibit. Some works are for sale, but viewing the exhibit is free.

The gallery is open Saturdays from noon - 5 p.m., and the exhibit closes Saturday. .

Mark your calendars too, for Oct. 8 - 10, when HWCA presents its next exhibit, <I>Living With AIDS<P>. This exhibit is open to non-members who wish to display their work on the topic, for a $5 dollar entry fee. For information on either exhibit or on HWCA, call 520-7840.

 

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DEF LEPPARD AMAZES HOUSTONIANS

by Eva Marusak

Contributing Writer

Mosquitos hovered in the heavy Houston night air as the sweaty human smorgasbord below danced, sang and gorged themselves on the music of Def Leppard.

Abandoning its in-the-round format, Def Leppard attacked the Saturday night crowd in all their full-frontal glory. "Rock! Rock! (Til You Drop)" got the crowd to its feet and into a fist-pumping frenzy that continued well into "Another Hit and Run."

Halfway through the show, the crowd got a much needed rest with an unplugged rendition of the band's latest single "Two Steps Behind" from the <I>Last Action Hero<P> soundtrack.

Not only did it afford the band a breather, but it also demonstrated members' ability to go from ear-splitting heavy metal to melodic, tension-soothing harmonies.

Backlit by an immense lighting system worthy of the Valhallean gods, those (mostly) British bad boys put on an exciting show. A fantastic array of varilights danced across, above and beyond the stage in a complex choreography to the heart-stopping beat of Rick Allen's drums.

As one of the best drummers in the music industry, Rick Allen kept a blistering pace throughout the show. The Thunder God did not need a drum solo to highlight his musical ability, as it showed with every powerful stroke upon the skins, pounding the crowd's senses into mind-numbing pulses of pleasure. Once you've heard a one-armed drummer you're spoiled for the rest.

Rick Savage bided his time between playing bass and fiddling with a lone keyboard at the back of the stage. Most bassists are content to play the quiet bassline and just fade in and out of the song. Rick Savage, however, prefers to make his presence known in every tune. His bass lines are loud yet tempered with a light touch, giving each song its own melodic quality and toning down the somewhat jagged quality of Vivian Campell's guitar.

Before playing with Def Leppard, Campell played with Whitesnake, and he still sounds as if he's playing with Whitesnake. He just does not have the same guitar sound as the late Steve Clark nor does he possess the quality of Clark's playing.

Phil Collen is still amazing. This is one heavy metal guitarist who would be more at home playing a Spanish flamenco than a heavy metal anthem. His chords are thrilling and lend an international flair to an otherwise grungy sound. The glow-in-the-dark Bela Lugosi guitar he uses during the show is also an excellent piece of artwork.

Lead singer Joe Elliott gave the audience all he had throughout the show. He leapt onto the speakers, ran from stage right to stage left and back again, then did quite a few jumps off the drum stand. And all this in painfully tight (yet pleasing to look at) denim cutoffs.

Elliott almost fell flat on his face after one such exuberant jump off the speakers. His singing was less than perfect, but what can one expect after 18 months on the road and 236 shows?

Aside from the humidity, mosquitos and threat of rain, Def Leppard once again put on a show not to be forgotten. Upon leaving, many questioned whether the humming in their ears was from the show or from the mosquitos.

 

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COUNCILMAN CHAMPIONS IMMIGRANTS

by Charlene Espinoza

News Reporter

Mexican nationals eligible for amnesty and seeking U.S. citizenship have a strong supporter in Houston City Councilmen Ben Reyes.

"The Hispanic population is the fastest growing in our community and greatly influences us," Reyes said to the Hispanic Business Association Tuesday night.

Reyes said he disagrees with California Governor Pete Wilson and his efforts to pass legislation to change the current Constitution concerning citizenship. Wilson wants to ensure that children born to undocumented citizens in the United States do not automatically become citizens. The current law allows people born in the United States to become U.S. citizens.

"By denying these children citizenship, the government is being counterproductive," Reyes said about undocumented children in the school system, including the college level.

"Up to 40 percent of the Hispanic population at Galena Park School District are undocumented immigrants," said Reyes. "Being so mean-spirited will cause the United States to pay down the road."

Reyes said undocumented citizens are denied health care, immunization and an education. He stressed that these conditions could lead to further problems. Since there is no way to document undocumented citizens, the exact number that exists in the school system, or the city is unknown.

Concerns of discrimination against Mexican immigrants were echoed by Lorenzo Cano, associate director of Mexican-American Studies, who said "this type of legislation is very dangerous and may cause vigilant attacks against Mexican immigrants resembling attacks seen in parts of Germany."

Reyes office has taken steps to help immigrants with amnesty get their citizenship by offering free month-long classes taught by volunteers at local libraries. The volunteers include lawyers, Houston police officers and even members of the Immigration and Naturalization Services.

"The program has a 99 percent effectiveness rate ... and 435 became U.S. citizens last Friday," said Reyes.

 

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DIXON PROMISES INTENSE DEFENSE DESPITE POOR START

by Jason Paul Ramirez

Daily Cougar Staff

The numbers don't lie.

The Houston Cougars are last or next to last in almost every Southwest Conference defensive statistical category.

They are at the bottom in overall defense, giving up an average of 515.5 yards per game. They are next to last in both passing defense (296.5) and in rushing defense (219).

But that does not discourage senior right tackle Stephen Dixon.

The two-year starter has promised that the Cougar defense will play with more intensity than they have shown during their 0-2 start.

"These past two weeks of practice, we have played just the opposite of what we had been showing," Dixon said. "Now we have guys hustling around because they are getting sick and tired of losing."

With the No. 8 Michigan Wolverines looming in Ann Arbor Saturday, there's no time like the present to start demonstrating good, hustling defense.

"I don't see any weaknesses in Michigan's offense," Dixon said. "They have so many guys who can really beat you physically."

Playing physical was all the Wolverines needed last season when they sent the Cougars reeling 61-7 in front of a crowd of 104,968 at Michigan Stadium.

In order to win this season, or at least have a chance at winning, Dixon stressed the importance of the defense needing to keep their heads in the game.

"If we let off even one play, we're going to get beat," Dixon said.

The intense practices held last week led a lot of the Cougar defensive players to stop and realize who they were and what they were supposed to do, Dixon said.

"It was so intense, we even had several fights break out," he said. "There were a lot of guys, including myself, who were getting tired of being pushed around at practices as well as on the field."

Head coach Kim Helton tried to find the good in such a bad start.

"You really have to learn how to hate losing sometimes," he said.

Though they are not favored to win, playing a high-caliber team like the Wolverines should payoff in dividends for Dixon and the rest of the defense in terms of improving their morale.

"By watching them play, I've learned what it takes to be a champion," Dixon said. "They are not flashy at all. They come out with class, win with class and are classy after the game.

"The bottom line for us is that we have to start making plays."

 

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GOLF TEAM STORMS PAST KIAWAH FIELD IN RECORD FASHION

Cougar Sports Service

The Cougar golf team never looked back when taking a 10-shot victory at the Kiawah Island (S.C.) Intercollegiate Tournament Tuesday.

Houston shot a tournament-record 273 in the first round and closed the three-round tournament with an 854 total, 10 shots ahead of North Carolina-Charlotte at 864.

Anders Hansen led all Cougars with a 5-under-par 211, tying him for fifth in the individual standings. Junior Eric Bogar was tied for seventh with two others at 213.

Next up for the Cougars is the Red River Classic in Dallas on Oct. 11-12, followed by the Fore Tulsa Tournament on Oct. 18-19 in Tulsa, Okla., the Louisiana State University Invitational on Nov. 1-2 in Baton Rouge and the Harvey Pinnick Tournament in Austin, Nov. 8-9.

 

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GARY GRAHAM FIGHTS DEATH

by Ericka Schiche

Daily Cougar Staff

At one time, the strapping ebony warrior brandished a .22-caliber firearm.

A symbol of power. A metal tool. A means of problem solving in an expeditious fashion.

Convicted death row inmate Gary Graham, circa 1981, was a lanky teenager. Fifth Ward product of a mentally ill mother and an alcoholic father.

"I'm pretty sure ego had a lot to do with it and I think especially being in that environment with so many other people, it wasn't unusual to have a gun," says Graham, who has gained notice for his pleas of innocence.

He no longer possesses a gun because Ellis I Unit, his current residence, is a maximum security prison where inmates who must pay the ultimate penalty lie in wait. It is a colossal structure of rust brick, watch towers and gates. The drive is lined with delicate red and purple flowers, trees and stones.

From the prison's interview room Graham, 29, says the real story of what happened May 13, 1981, is shrouded in mystery. "But I think clearly the information–as far as ballistics tests, the bullet not matching the gun–I mean, clearly, that's information that should have been made available to the jury that was not."

At age 18, when many young men his age studied dangling participles or advanced algebra, drove around in hot wheels or shot the breeze, he found himself locked in a cell. Charged with the murder of Bobby Grant Lambert, he then faced the realization the Angel of Death would not pass over him.

As he makes hand gestures from behind a glass partition and screen, he reveals a golden watch and a crucifix–a sign of his conversion to Catholicism. He also grips a gray pen. He wears a short-sleeved white cotton suit.

"Justice delayed is justice denied," says #696, his monotone voice placing no emphasis on any particular word. It is a voice that speaks equal measure of The Home and The Street.

The pressure of living at the epicenter of the Texas criminal justice system has clearly taken its toll on Graham.

"I think it's very emotionally draining to go through that process and it is definitely cruel and unusual to go through the mental torture, which is basically what it is to be put through that process and not knowing if you're going to live or die and knowing that human beings, fallible human beings, are sitting around making decisions on your favor. It's very frustrating."

"Quit torturing us. Quit torturing us." This is what his stepmother said on the hot August day he received his latest reprieve.

If he escapes the lethal solution of sodium triopental, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride, Graham will have done so primarily because people marched <I>en masse<P> through Austin, beating down the doors of the governor and attorney general.

They have given resonance to the voice of a man who remained silent for years. A man who went on a rampage, committing armed robberies, a sexual assault and assault with a deadly weapon. He plead guilty to those offenses, committed during a six-day crime spree, and has since offered apologies to the 10 victims he acknowledges.

But he does not apologize for the shooting death of Lambert because, as he says, he remained in the company of family and friends on the evening of Lambert's death. The 53-year-old Tucson, Ariz., native lay in a pool of blood on a Safeway parking lot. His widow says if the indigent Graham is indeed innocent, he should be released.

He was declared guilty on the testimony of one witness. Bernadine Skillern. The "tragically mistaken" witness. "I think you have to look back at not so much what she stated at the trial–no one attempted to go back to the police report, in which she stated that the individual she saw commit the crime, whose complexion was darker than mine and whose face was thinner than mine. But that information was never made available to the jury. And I think had that information been made available to the jury, then they would have concluded differently on her credibility."

He clings to the hope a Sept. 29 hearing will result in a decision to hear previously unheard testimonies of eye witnesses Sherian Etuk, Ronald Hubbard, Malcolm Stephens, Lorna Stephens and Leodis Wilkerson. Attorneys Mandy Welch, Robert Owen and Anthony Haughton of the Texas Resource Center indicate numerous alibi witnesses are also available.

His case began at trial (where he was represented by Ron Mock and Chester Thornton), went to an appellate court (represented by Douglas O'Brien), through several habeas corpus proceedings, the U.S. Supreme Court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and numerous other proceedings.

He says his Constitutionally- granted rights to a fair trial, adequate representation and the cruel and unusual punishment amendment have been disregarded. The criminal justice system is inherently racist, he says, noting about "73 percent of the individuals from Harris County are either black or Latino here on death row."

His supporters often quote Deuteronomy 17: 6, which says a man shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. But Graham does not care to discuss religion.

Some say a poison extracted from the home enters the mind of a potential criminal. Graham concurs, but says his parents did the best they could under the circumstances.

"I think my parents also came from a dysfunctional family and so I think they did the very best that they possibly could to raise me and try to get me to be, get me to grow up and be a good little boy, like most moms and dads did. But unfortunately, I think they suffered a lot of problems, which, in effect, also hurt me a lot."

Grief in the jail cell is all-encompassing.

"I think basically the death of my mother brought about a lot of grief and pain at that time, in 1989. I was very fortunate to have good friends around me. It was very helpful in giving me encouragement to continue on."

Other deaths, of death row comrades, have a similar effect.

"I think it's very quiet. I think people are very concerned and their eyes very tense. And people are worried that people they know and feel close to are going to be killed and murdered. And there is an absolute sense, a feeling of being helpless to do anything about it," he says of the period after another succumbs to lethal injection.

A friend of his, Clarence Brandley, made it to the other side in a state where men, in Conroe, were lynched as late as 1975. They were and are close friends.

Graham has a wiry figure. Skin pulled tautly over cheeks, mandible and forehead. Slightly chapped lips. A thin moustache.

At a younger age, his smile and eyes revealed a sense of innocence. He is a portrait of weariness and exhaust these days.

The brown irises are focused, the eyes communicating his sense of his mortality and the emotional price of surviving an encounter with a pale, emaciated figure. Death.

While in the 5-by-9 foot cell, he spent many hours in a plaintive mood. Out of frustration, he enrolled in paralegal correspondence courses and founded The Endeavor, a newspaper by and about death row inmates. He reflects on the legacies of Malcolm X and Martin Luther king, Jr. Two men he considers "very true heroes in my mind."

Legal representation he terms inadequate caused him to take the courses. "Not only to help myself. I wasn't receiving any type of representation when I made that decision and I felt I had to do it if no one else did. And I also had a desire to help other inmates who don't have attorneys on their cases and do I try to be as much help as I possibly can in that area."

The latest chapter of the Graham saga found the main character in a holding cell. From the the stark setting, which he describes as similar to regular cells, a door leads to the execution chamber.

If science is man's <I>fait accompli<P>, Graham has likewise perfected the science of avoiding. The Needle.

"First and foremost, I hope this case will help to create some type of adequate clemency process here in the state of Texas and that's something that seems to be in the process of overhauling that process. And so I think that's one of the possible good things that could come out of this."

Graham, sitting still in a brown wooden chair, says he looks forward to life on the other side.

If released, he will be an aged strapping ebony warrior.

One who does not tote a gun.

 

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LAST WORDS

by shane patrick boyle

Daily Cougar Staff

A few moments prior to injection, prisoners condemned to death are given the opportunity to make a last statement.

Not all prisoners choose to make statements.

Jerry Joe Bird, for example, the man who spent the longest time on Texas' death row, is recorded as responding to the question of whether or not he would like to make a statement by saying, "I don't think so, that's all. Go ahead. Start things rolling."

Then he mouthed the word "Hi" to his mother.

Ignacio Cuevas, who at the age of 59 became the oldest man executed in the state of Texas, is recorded as saying, "I'm going to a beautiful place. Okay, Warden. Roll 'em."

Not all final statements, however, are so conciliatory. Leonel Torres Herrera, for example, upheld his plea of innocence, made a statement against the system that condemned him, and encouraged those who oppose the death penalty to continue their fight.

Herrera's last statement reads, "I am innocent, innocent, innocent."

"Make no mistake about this. I owe society nothing. Continue the struggle for human rights, helping those–especially Mr. Graham.

"I am an innocent man, and something very wrong is taking place tonight."

"May God bless you all. And, I am ready."

Following standard procedure, after the prisoner has the opportunity to make a last statement, the warden says, "We are ready," and a medical professional, hidden from view, injects the prisoner with the mixture of Sodium Triopental, Pancuronium Bromide and Potassium Chloride.

The prisoner never has another opportunity to speak.

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