Knifeman in 1991 murder continues 45-year sentence
HOUSTON The last of 10 men still incarcerated in the 1991 gay-bashing murder of 27-year-old Paul Broussard was denied parole on Wednesday, Nov. 7.
Broussard was brutally beaten and stabbed to death when two carloads of youths jumped him and two friends after they left a bar in Houston’s heavily gay 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.
Buice’s case went before the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles for the third time in October. As they did in 2003 and 2005, board members opted to set off the case for another two years, meaning they will revisit it in November 2009.
“I’m just thanking a lot of people for their assistance in helping me,” said Broussard’s mother, Nancy Rodriguez, who has fought to keep Buice in prison. “The board did the right thing. I trusted them to do the right thing.”
Rodriguez had requested that Buice’s case be set off for five years, and the board’s decision means it won’t be long before she has to repeat the emotional process of soliciting letters on her behalf and ultimately testifying again.
“You have to start six months in advance if you want to be on top of this,” said Rodriguez. “It’s still a little bit mind-boggling as to why they don’t give a five-year setoff. But I’m satisfied with the fact that he’s behind bars, where he belongs, and I’ll be back.”
Conrith Davis, a parole board member, said the decision took into consideration the facts of the case, the progress Buice has made while incarcerated and testimony from all parties.
“As a result of putting all that together and evaluating it in its totality, that’s how I came to the decision to set him off for two years,” Davis said. “Parole is a discretionary decision.”
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 an unusual saga in recent years, with the prominent gay-rights activist who helped bring the 10 killers to justice now fighting for Buice’s release.
Ray Hill claims he almost single-handedly solved the crime after police prompted outrage in Houston’s gay community by allegedly failing to properly investigate. But Hill now says he the murder wasn’t motivated by hate.
Hill, also an ex-con who hosts “The Prison Show,” a popular radio show for prisoners and their families, argued that Buice is not homophobic and poses no threat to society.
Buice reportedly is a model prisoner who’s earned college degrees while incarcerated, and he has expressed remorse for Broussard’s murder in the form of a letter that was read on Hill’s show and printed in The Houston Voice.
“I think that that’s very poor policy decision on behalf of the parole board because Jon certainly has more than satisfied the requirement placed on all inmates for parole,” Hill said this week, adding that he may retain attorneys to appeal the denial. “There is just absolutely no justification in the parole board’s own criteria and operating rules to deny Jon Buice his parole release date.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 9, 2007