Jon Buice denied parole in gay Houston man’s 1991 murder

Jon BuiceNot surprisingly, Jon Buice will stay behind bars for at least another year.

Buice is the only remaining assailant out of the 10 teens who beat up and killed Paul Broussard in 1991 in an anti-gay attack in Houston’s Montrose area.

While he was granted parole two years ago, the decision was later reversed. Since then, efforts by his attorney and gay activist Ray Hill have ramped up to help him be released. Broussard’s mother and Houston victim advocate Andy Kahan have pushed for Buice to remain in jail at least 27 years, the age Broussard was when he was murdered.

Statewide advocacy group Equality Texas has supported the efforts to keep Buice in prison.  So have many LGBT-friendly state lawmakers.

—  Anna Waugh

TX lawmaker may have illegally shared file to keep gay man’s killer locked up

Jon Buice

Jon Buice

Travis County’s Public Integrity Unit is investigating evidence that state lawmakers illegally shared a disciplinary file of Jon Buice to prevent him from being released on parole.

Buice is serving a 45-year sentence for the 1991 hate crime murder of gay Houston banker Paul Broussard. He is the last of the 10 teens who brutally beat Broussard one night in the Montrose area to remain in prison.

Buice was granted parole in 2011, but the parole board later reversed its decision based on new, undisclosed information. Broussard’s mother, Nancy Rodriguez, has said she wants him to serve 27 years, the age of her son when he died. Buice is up for parole again on Sept. 24.

Now, his attorney, Bill Habern, tells the Texas Tribune he thinks Buice was denied parole in 2011 and again last year because a state lawmaker released Buice’s disciplinary file to victim’s advocate Andy Kahan and Rodriguez.

—  Anna Waugh

Equality Texas says man should remain in prison for 1991 gay-bashing murder

Paul Broussard

Paul Broussard

Jon Buice is again up for parole in the 1991 murder of gay Houston banker Paul Broussard, who was brutally beaten and stabbed in the Montrose area when Buice and his friends decided to “beat up some queers.”

Buice, who was sentenced to 45 years in prison in 1992, is the only one of the 10 teens from The Woodlands who remains behind bars. But Andy Kahan with the Houston Crime Victim’s Office said Buice’s case is under review for parole. His hearing is set for Sept. 24.

Statewide LGBT advocacy group Equality Texas is again calling for Buice to be denied parole and urging people to contact the Board of Pardons and Paroles. Broussard’s mother, Nancy Rodriguez, has said she wants Buice to remain in jail for at least 27 years, the age of her son when he was killed.

“When is it OK to allow a violent criminal out of jail early? A criminal, who blatantly snubbed his nose at the laws of humanity and, with hate in his soul, struck down another simply because the victim was gay,” Equality Texas wrote on its blog. “A criminal who found enjoyment at going out and ‘beating up some queers.’ A criminal who used his fist, steel toed boots, and a nail studded 2X4 to slowly murder another human being. A criminal who incited nine others to join him in this crime.  That is the question that, once again, is before the Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles and the question that Equality Texas answers: NOT YET!”

—  Anna Waugh

Buice to remain in prison after parole board reverses decision

Man convicted of 1991 gay-bashing murder of Paul Broussard won’t be up for parole again until next year

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

The Texas Pardons and Parole Board this week reversed its earlier decision to release convicted gay basher Jon Buice from prison.

Buice, convicted of the 1991 murder of Paul Broussard in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood, was originally sentenced in May 1992 to 45 years in prison, and has served 19 years of that sentence.
He was one of 10 young men from The Woodlands, a northern suburb of Houston, convicted in the killing and is the only one of the 10 still in prison.

The parole board on July 1 this year had approved Buice for release on Oct. 1. Andy Kahan, victims’ advocate for the city of Houston, said Tuesday that the board reversed its decision based on “new information that had not been introduced in his [Buice’s] previous four or five parole hearings. Also the Harris County district attorney weighed in on the case, and that had not been previously done.”

Kahan said he was “not at liberty to divulge” the nature of that new information. But he did say that the information “had nothing at all to do” with allegations that Buice had engaged in an illicit affair with a female prison chaplain while in prison in Huntsville in 2010.

While Texas Department of Corrections officials would not confirm that Buice and the chaplain had engaged in a sexual relationship, the chaplain was disciplined and later fired. Buice also received disciplinary action and was moved to a different prison.

Rissie Owens, presiding officer of the parole board, confirmed in a press release that the reversal was based on new information.

Buice will remain in prison for at least one more year before his request for parole can be reconsidered.

Broussard’s mother, Nancy Rodriguez, speaking by phone Tuesday from her home in Georgia, said she was notified of the decision that morning when Houston’s victims’ services office called her.

She has traveled to Texas each time any of the men convicted in connection with her son’s murder has gone to trial or had a parole hearing, and she said she will be back next year when Buice’s parole request is reconsidered.

“I will start getting ready for the next one [parole hearing] as soon as I get the letter saying he’s up for parole again, maybe in March or April of next year,” Rodriguez said. “I just don’t feel he has changed. He’s never shown any remorse. … My son did not deserve to die that way; nobody deserves that. I am concerned he [Buice] will go out and do something else to someone else.”

According to testimony during the trials, Buice and the nine other young men — all but one of whom were teenagers — had been drinking and doing drugs when they went to Montrose, the city’s gay neighborhood, on the night of July 3, 1991. When they saw Broussard and two other men walking home from one of the area’s gay nightclubs, the youths began to shout insults at them.

The 10 youths then got out of their vehicles and attacked the three gay men. The other two men managed to escape and run away, but Broussard was cornered by the gang. He was punched, kicked with steel-toed boots, hit with a nail-studded board and stabbed three times.

The Harris County Medical Examiner determined that it was the stab wounds — which Buice admitted in court that he had inflicted — that killed Broussard.

Ray Hill of Houston, an advocate on gay rights and prisoners rights, was one of the activists who organized rallies and protest in the days following Broussard’s murder, intending to focus public attention on the anti-gay hate aspects of the killing and prompt authorities to investigate thoroughly.

In the years since, however, Hill has become friends with Buice and is one of his most vocal supporters in his efforts to get parole. Hill said this week he is “very disappointed” in the parole board’s decision.

He described Buice as a “model prisoner” who has earned two bachelor’s degrees and hours toward a master’s degree while behind bars, and he said he believes it was “political interference” that prompted the parole board to reverse its decision.

State Sen. John Whitmire and state Rep. Garnet Coleman, Houston Democrats, both spoke out against Buice’s parole, sending letters to and calling the parole board. Hill said this week that the legislators’ actions were unethical and that he intends to file a complaint against them both.

But Kahan, who has worked with Rodriguez on the case for the last 19 years, said that Hill is wrong. “Frankly, he’s made Nancy’s [Rodriguez’s] life a living hell,” Kahan said of Hill.

“Nancy has always maintained that Jon Buice should serve a minimum of 27 years behind bars, because that’s how long Paul [Broussard] lived,” Kahan said. “If he [Buice] had not taken out his knife and stabbed Paul, Paul would have been injured but he would still be alive. That’s what it all boils down to. He took Paul Broussard’s life, and the only recourse we have to punish him for that is to keep him in prison.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 5, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

BREAKING: Parole board reverses decision, will not release Buice in October

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has reversed its decision to grant parole to Jon Buice, one of the men convicted of murdering gay man Paul Broussard in Houston in 1991, according to Broussard’s mother, Nancy Rodriguez. The parole board voted on July 1 to release Buice in October.

Jon Buice

Rodriguez, who lives in Georgia, said she was notified of the reversal this morning through a phone call from the Houston Police Department’s Victims’ Services unit.

Buice has served 20 years of a 45 year sentence. Rodriguez had requested he serve one year for every year of her son’s life; Broussard was 27 when he was killed.

Equality Texas, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization, helped coordinate a letter-writing campaign oppposing parole for Buice. Among those who participated were state Rep. Garnet Coleman and state Sen. John Whitmire, both of Houston. Whitmire said he rarely writes to the parole board either for or against granting release.

Broussard was killed in the Montrose area of Houston in 1991 by a gang that had come into the city from the Woodlands, a wealthy suburb north of Houston, to target gay men. Advocates wanted Buice to remain in prison longer because of the brutality of this particular hate crime: Buice admitted being the one who had stabbed Broussard at least three times. Broussard was also kicked, punched, stomped and hit with nail-studded boards.

Equality Texas, then called the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby, followed the case closely and campaigned for a hate crimes law in Texas to enhance penalties. That law was passed 10 years after Broussard’s death.

—  David Taffet

What’s Brewing: Hearing today in suit over Perry’s day of prayer; parole fought for gay man’s killer

Several elected officials have joined the fight to keep Jon Buice behind bars for the 1991 hate crime murder of gay banker Paul Broussard, pictured.

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A federal judge will hear arguments today in a lawsuit that seeks to bar Texas Gov. Rick Perry from promoting or participating in his anti-gay day of prayer on Aug. 6 in Houston. The lawsuit was filed earlier this month by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group of atheists and agnostics that contends the governor’s involvement in the event violates the separation of church and state. Meanwhile, it’s still unclear what Perry’s role will be in the day of prayer or whether he’ll speak at the gathering.

2. In any case, Gov. Perry appears to be sticking to his position that issues like marriage equality and abortion should be left up to the states under the 10th amendment. Perry said Wednesday that if Roe. v. Wade were overturned, he’d support allowing states to legalize abortion. Last week Perry said he’s “fine” with New York’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage. Both stances have landed him in hot water with social conservatives. “You either have to believe in the 10th amendment or you don’t,” Perry said. “You can’t believe in the 10th Amendment for a few issues and then something that doesn’t suit you, you say, ‘Well we really rather not have that state decide that.’”

3. Several elected officials from the Houston area have joined the fight to keep Jon Buice behind bars for the 1991 hate crime murder of gay banker Paul Broussard, The Houston Chronicle reports. Buice, who’s served 20 years of his 45-year sentence, was granted parole earlier this month and is set to be released sometime in October. But elected officials have joined Broussard’s mother, LGBT advocates and others in calling on parole commissioners to revisit their decision to release Buice. Those who’ve written letters to the the state parole board include Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos, state Sens. John Whitmire and Rodney Ellis, and state Reps. Jessica Farrar and Garnet Coleman. To submit your own letter opposing Buice’s release, go here.

—  John Wright

State Rep. Garnet Coleman asks parole board not to release gay-bashing murderer Jon Buice

State Rep. Garnet Coleman

The Texas Independent reports that State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, a longtime LGBT ally, is asking the Board of Pardons and Paroles to reverse its recent decision granting parole to Jon Buice, convicted in the brutal murder of gay Houston banker Paul Broussard in 1991. Buice has served only 20 years of his 45-year sentence.

Coleman told the Texas Independent that the “heinous nature of the crime” and the fact that Buice and his friends were deliberately targeting people leaving a gay club, guided him to fight Buice’s parole each time it has come before the board since 2003.

“This was Matthew Shepard before there was Matthew Shepard,” Coleman said, a refrain often invoked about Broussard’s murder, which predated hate-crime legislation in Texas by a decade.

“Switch the circumstances, say it was a guy who came in from Conroe and went out and started hunting black people to kill. Most people would be outraged,” Coleman said, “or if it was a group of black people.”

To read Rep. Coleman’s full letter to the parole board, go here. Equality Texas is asking people to join Coleman by writing their own letters to the parole board. For a guide on what to write, read Equality Texas’ letter here. Broussard’s mother, Nancy Rodriguez, has requested that she be copied on all letters at Nrodriguez5257@att.net. The letters should be emailed to the following people:

Rissie Owens, Presiding Officer, Board of Pardons and Paroles: Rissie.owens@tdcj.state.tx.us

Victims Services Division, Texas Department of Criminal Justice: Victim.svc@tdcj.state.tx.us

Charles Shipman (voted in favor of parole), Parole Commissioner: Charles.shipman@tdcj.state.tx.us

Marsha Moberly (voted in favor of parole), Parole Commissioner: Marsha.Moberley@tdcj.state.tx.us

—  John Wright

Equality Texas wants parole board to reverse decision, keep gay man’s killer behind bars

Paul Broussard

Equality Texas is calling on people to write letters to Texas parole officials asking them not to release Jon Buice, who brutally murdered gay Houston banker Paul Broussard in 1991. The state parole board voted last week to release Buice, who has served less than half of his 45-year sentence, over the objections of Broussard’s mother, as well as groups including Equality Texas and the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. But Equality Texas says the parole board’s vote isn’t final:

Though the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has granted Buice’s parole as of July 1, there is still time for us to reverse the decision. Parole decisions are made based on several factors, one of them being public input. This is where we need your help: let the State of Texas know that a homophobic, hate-filled murderer deserves to spend more than half of his sentence in prison.

Your help is necessary in the fulfillment of justice; the more letters we send the State of Texas, the more they’ll know just how angry we all are.

To send a letter, go here.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Nikki Araguz back in court; SA homeless shelter allegedly refuses gay support

Nikki Araguz

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Transgender widow Nikki Araguz will be back in court today for a hearing on her motion for a new trial. Wharton County District Judge Randy Clapp ruled in May that Araguz isn’t entitled to death benefits from her husband, fallen firefighter Thomas Araguz III. Clapp ruled that the Araguzes’ marriage was invalid because Nikki Araguz was born male. Araguz has a new legal team and has vowed to appeal her case — which could have major implications for transgender rights — all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

2. A homeless shelter in San Antonio is accused of refusing to accept donations from Pride San Antonio because it is a gay event. The shelter, Haven for Hope, also declined a public visit from recording artist Martha Wash, an advocate for the homeless who performed at Pride. In an email responding to the allegations, Haven for Hope CEO George Block told QSanAntonio that the shelter tries “to refrain from publicly aligning ourselves with any particular religious, political or special interest group.” Block added: “Like most public rallies, a Gay Pride Block Party will attract ardent supporters & equally ardent detractors. Since we serve both groups and rely on donations from both groups, it would be our preference to host Ms. Wash for a personal tour of campus, rather than participate in a public event.”

3. The Houston Chronicle gets some reaction to the release of Jon Buice, who’s been granted parole after serving 20 years for the brutal murder of gay banker Paul Broussard in 1991. The Chronicle’s headline says, “Gay community mixed over killer’s parole,” but the story identifies only one member of the community who believes Buice should be released — Ray Hill. Noel Freeman, president of the Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, says the group voted to oppose Buice’s release. And Broussard’s mother says she fears Buice is still dangerous.

—  John Wright

BREAKING: Broussard’s killer to be released

Jon Buice

Fox 26 in Houston reports that Jon Buice, the last suspect still in custody for the 1991 hate crime murder of gay banker Paul Broussard, will be released from prison in October.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles announced Friday that it voted to release Buice, one of 10 men who attacked Broussard outside a gay bar in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood.

Buice, then 17 and now 37, was the knife-man who inflicted the deadly wounds, and he received the longest sentence, 45 years.

Seven years before Matthew Shepard’s murder, Broussard’s was one of the earliest anti-gay hate crimes to generate national media attention and it led to Texas’ first hate-crimes law.

Broussard’s mother, Nancy Rodriguez, has been fighting to keep Buice behind bars, saying he should serve at least 27 years, the length of her son’s life.

According to Fox 26, the parole board pointed to Broussard’s good behavior behind bars, where he’s earned two college degrees, as well as the fact that he was only 17 at the time of the crime.

Buice has expressed remorse, issuing a letter of apology in 1999 that was printed in the Houston Voice, then the city’s LGBT paper. 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.

“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.”

—  John Wright