Houston gay activist is vocal supporter of Buice’s attempts to leave prison
Long before there was Matthew Shepard, there was Paul Broussard.
But while Shepard’s two killers are both serving consecutive life sentences, the last of 10 men incarcerated for Broussard’s 1991 murder is up for parole Monday, Oct. 15.
Broussard, 27, was brutally beaten and stabbed to death in an alleged gay-bashing when two carloads of youths jumped him and two friends after they left a bar in Houston’s Montrose area.
Jon Buice, then 17 and now 33, was the knife-man who inflicted the deadly wounds, and he received the longest sentence, 45 years. This will mark Buice’s third parole hearing after he was denied in 2003 and 2005.
Broussard’s reportedly was the first gay-bashing murder to generate national media attention and it precipitated Texas’ first hate-crimes law. The case also has evolved into a rather unusual saga, with the prominent gay-rights activist who helped bring the 10 killers to justice now fighting for Buice’s release.
Ray Hill, 66, almost single-handedly solved the crime after police prompted outrage in Houston’s gay community by allegedly failing to properly investigate. But Hill, sometimes called “the father of gay rights” in Houston, now says he does not believe Broussard’s murder was motivated by hate.
Hill, also an ex-con who hosts the “The Prison Show,” a popular radio show for prisoners and their families, has even named Buice his heir apparent behind the microphone.
“I have no apologies for the role that I played in solving this case, and I have no apologies for the position I take in this case now,” Hill told Dallas Voice this week. “What you have here is a bunch of young men drunk, stoned and crazy, and they encounter somebody out there, and a fight breaks out. I don’t know who said what to whom, but a fight breaks out, and it becomes an us-and-them situation.”
Buice has expressed remorse, issuing a letter of apology in 1999 that was read on Hill’s show and printed in the Houston Voice. Buice said he decided to write the letter after hearing the story of Shepard, the gay University of Wyoming student who was savagely murdered in 1998.
Buice, a model prisoner who’s earned two college degrees behind bars, has said he has gay friends and family members and is not a homophobe.
“The gay and lesbian community of Houston I owe a momentous apology, a repentance for an act of atrocity,” the letter stated in part. “If it were possible, I would sacrifice my own life to bring Paul back.”
Broussard’s mother, Nancy Rodriguez, has fought tirelessly to keep Buice and his accomplices locked up.
Five of Broussard’s other killers received probation, three were sentenced to 15 years and one day, and one was sentenced to 20 years. However, Buice is the only one who remains in prison.
Rodriguez, who lives in Georgia, could not be reached for comment, but she reportedly is again scheduled to testify before the parole board Monday, Oct. 15.
“These men took Paul from the family who loved him very much,” Rodriguez wrote in a recent online action alert calling for people to write letters to the board on her behalf.
“Paul is gone from us, not for 45 years but forever. We need to send a message that hate crimes are not acceptable and will not be condoned or pardoned.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 12, 2007
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