Letters

It was so misleading, so steeped in innuendo, so clever in its presentation. Wallstin emphasized poor Randle's innocent lack of involvement, that he was just "along for the ride." Then he slips in Randle's admission of chasing after one of the survivors to beat him, while implying that this damning confession was part of a naive mistake in having testified without an attorney. He emphasizes the gay community's all-powerful influence, operating still today, "almost three years" after criminal proceedings were closed. What -- this makes us bloodthirsty animals because we can't forget what happened to an innocent banker just because he was gay?

How can Wallstin imply that Randle was victimized by a criminal justice system when he confessed his involvement, he pleaded guilty in court, and, like all criminals in our society, he paid the price? In this case, the price was to follow a set of simple rules for ten years. However arbitrary were those rules, Randle did not follow them, so he paid a bigger price. Perhaps this is the best way to teach someone to follow the rules. Rules like, "We don't stand around and watch friends beat an unarmed person half to death with two-by-fours embedded with nails, then finish the job with kicks and stabbings." Or, "We don't chase after fleeing victims with the intent of beating the crap out of them." Or, "When we are caught participating in some animal act such as this, and we are made to face up to it, we show remorse."

Having read so many of your "exposes" over the years about things I knew little about, and having digested this piece of trash about something I do know about, I will never again accept what is written in your paper as being presumably true. I know now how easily you can twist the facts to meet your ends. In this case, your ends seem to be the denial of gay-bashing, the justification of brutal violence against gays, and the trumpeting of the "cause" of an admitted felon.

Name withheld by request
Houston

Brian Wallstin replies: After several weeks of investigation, HPD homicide detectives determined that the murder of Paul Broussard was not "gang-related" or "hate-crime related," according to the officers' incident report. That might explain why assistant district attorney Mike Anderson agreed to plea-bargained sentences of deferred adjudication for Gayland Randle and four of the nine other defendants in Broussard's killing, despite pressure from Nancy Rodriguez, gay activists and victims' rights advocates to try the cases and obtain prison terms for all ten.

As for the letter writer's claim that my story "omitted" the information that Broussard was beaten by a nail-studded board: While the story did point out that the prosecution set out to prove Broussard and his friends were attacked by a gang "swinging nail-studded two-by-fours," the accounts of the assault given the following day by Broussard's companions, Cary Anderson and Richard Delauney, made no mention that the attackers had brandished any kind of weapon, according to the HPD incident report. Two of the defendants, Jon Buice and Brian Spake, testified in some detail against their companions, but both denied that anyone involved in the attack on Paul Broussard had used a board. Finally, defense attorneys interviewed for the story said that the prosecution never had any evidence to support the allegation. When asked about it, the assistant D.A. told the Press that Broussard appeared to have suffered a puncture wound on his back that was not inflicted by Buice's pocket knife.

One explanation for the widespread belief that a nail-studded board was used on Paul Broussard is that two men told police a few days after the murder that they had been threatened by a group of youths on the same night that Broussard was killed, and that one of the attackers was carrying a bat or a piece of wood. However, the ten defendants charged in Broussard's murder were never found to have any involvement in that other incident.

Gayland Randle never "confessed" to Paul Broussard's murder. Rather, he accepted a sentence of deferred adjudication on the recommendation of his attorney, who feared the heavy publicity and charged emotions surrounding the case might influence a jury more than the facts. Among the more relevant and established facts is that Anderson's and Delauney's statements reflect that they did not see a black man among their attackers that night.

Randle says he never touched Paul Broussard, but has never denied that he was present when an especially ugly and deplorable crime was committed. If he and his family have a "cause," it's to understand why that automatically makes him an "animal.

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