Theories Abound
Has anyone but me thought that the husband of Paul Beauchamp's mistress (!?) may have done something -- or had something done -- himself ["An Open But Shut Case," by Steve McVicker, July 30]? Perhaps Paul was almost drowned from liquor consumption and thrown into the pond to drift. He could have been knocked out with a tire iron (concussion?), and at 43 feet or more from some object in the water, I could mistake a drowned human head for a turtle!

The dog -- did she know Bryan? How well?
B.J. Thomas

Take It to the Feds
I have a suggestion for the father of the deceased Paul Beauchamp. It seems that organized crime is involved, and that may be the reason the state is reluctant to bring this case to justice. My advice is for the father to contact the FBI and the Justice Department with the facts of his son's death, and ask them to investigate. In order to do this, he may have to hire a knowledgeable and capable criminal attorney.

I suggest that he also contact both his senators in Washington, D.C. and ask for assistance in getting the FBI involved. These people have tremendous clout; they can get justice for his son's murder.

Tom Henry
via Internet

Short and Sweet
Great article! Splendid writing! ["Courtship, River Oaks Style," by George Flynn, July 16]

Kristi Hoss
via Internet

Sour Notes
I am writing this comment about the cover article about the music minister from Trinity Episcopalian Church ["Psalms of Silence," by Bob Burtman, June 18].

We had a similar situation at St. Ambrose Catholic Church on Mangum. The long-standing music minister was performing "art music" rather than "worship music." The music selections and hymns were from many of the European masters of this type of music. The selections were not at all appropriate for contemporary worshiping congregations. The music did not speak to the congregation, nor did it elevate the worship. In addition, the lyrics were very out of date with contemporary theology.

The similarity to the Trinity case is that the clergy mishandled the release of the music minister. The music minister and the choir and congregation were subjected to humiliating and offensive behaviors.

The ordained clergy, when it comes to the essential message of Christianity, just doesn't get it.

Don Derouin

More from the Front
I am writing to express my support for Dr. Castaneda ["Punches, Passion in Tenure War," by Russell Contreras, June 25]. He is a brilliant educator who challenges students to develop original thoughts and to utilize their minds, questioning the status quo in an effort to broaden their awareness and understanding of the world.

What politics lurk behind the decision to deny him tenure? Students have questioned, yet their voices have fallen on deaf ears. One meeting was granted to discuss "general issues." However, requests for subsequent meetings have been denied on the grounds there was nothing further to discuss. Administrators must realize that the decision to deny tenure will not pass without reverberations from the student body. In the words of UH Chancellor and President Arthur K. Smith, "Our future is in our hands." As students, we demand that we receive the highest quality education. And as students, we will make efforts to ensure that this becomes a reality -- beginning with the tenure of Dr. Quetzil Castaneda.

Erin Williams
via Internet

Money and Motherhood
I am writing in response to a letter ["Dads Don't Rate," June 4] concerning women who easily get out of motherhood via adoption or abortion, while a father has to give financial support for 18 years. The writer also proclaimed that mothers did not have the child's best interests at heart and that fathers did not have any custody rights.

A woman is usually forced to deal with adoption or abortion because the father doesn't want the baby, is not ready to be a father or he just doesn't care. He has an obligation to take care of his child financially. A single mother working two jobs to feed, clothe and provide shelter has rarely enough time to do things she wants with her child. She has to cook, clean, nurture and take care of her child herself. Do men truly believe if they provide financial child support that it makes them a father?

Fathers would not have to resort to desperate measures to see their children if they would share in the responsibilities of raising them. Instead, they would rather sob over the money they have to give their children. Now, who has the child's best interest at heart?

Angela Bivens

"N" Word Waxing
Congratulations to NaTasha Hall ["Word Worry," Letters, July 30] for her forethought in looking up the word "niggardly" before making an incorrect assumption regarding its meaning -- and shame on her for her suggestion that one refrain from using a word because it may be unfamiliar. I believe I was in seventh grade when I first heard the word and, like Ms. Hall, I was surprised to hear it. Sister Damian made a tremendous impression on our class when she explained its meaning -- small and unwilling to give of him- or herself, rather as she thought a person who would use the similar word might be.

Regrettably, the suggestion that we expunge from our lives things we do not understand or that might force us to do a little research and be objective, even tolerant, is too often taken as the best course. But my intention in writing this letter is not to wax philosophical but to point out how rapidly our vocabulary would decrease if we all limited our publications to words everyone could understand.

Margaret A.E. Ross

Going Batty
I agree with your review. If Polish Wedding was supposed to be a Polish Moonstruck, it completely missed the mark ["Marriage Blahs," by Jean Oppenheimer, July 30.] As I saw this movie last night, I can honestly say it wasn't worth the effort even if I got to see the movie free. The name, in fact, is a misnomer, as I never did see a wedding in the film at all. I must say that my brother did like the film, but that is because he is a socially repressed person who even likes Batman movies.

Elmah Hernandez
via Internet

Attorney Disputes Sheppard Article
I hereby demand damages for your defamation of me in the July 9, 1998 edition of the Dallas Observer. [The article "Of Life and Death" appears in this edition of the Houston Press.] The first meeting between Erica Yvonne Sheppard and myself of which you report -- the meeting before the second meeting after which Ms. Sheppard "wrote a letter to the appeals court requesting another attorney" -- is a complete fabrication. There was no such earlier meeting. Ms. Sheppard was on death row at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, and I will have no difficulty documenting that the first meeting between Ms. Sheppard and myself was on November 5, 1997. I told you in our telephone conversation on July 1, 1998, that there was no meeting in October 1997.

The allegation that I told Ms. Sheppard that she did not have a case is also a complete fabrication. But you went further. The first six paragraphs of your article unambiguously attribute to me the decision of Ms. Sheppard to request execution. This is not only untrue, but is exceedingly unfair. Furthermore, my understanding is that you knew it was untrue before July 9, 1998.

Your article includes the following misleading statement: "Attorney Keegan, who had been appointed to handle the habeas appeal in October, had already been granted the case's only 90-day extension, making July 1 the deadline for filing the petition." What in heaven's name was I supposed to have done? Ms. Sheppard had asked to be executed; she was scheduled to be executed on April 20, 1998 and there was the possibility that a court would find her application untimely. Hence I filed on her behalf a motion for an extension of time.

The theme of your article is the contrast between the competent, "white-gloved," pro bono efforts of civil lawyer Alan Wright, of the "silk-stocking" law firm of Haynes and Boone, and the incompetent efforts of a morally questionable, court-appointed solo practitioner who would stoop to suggesting that his client not pursue habeas corpus relief after being appointed to seek that relief for her. To make this contrast, you had to defame me. The article would have been substantially different had you portrayed me, at a minimum, as diligent and competent. You chose to defame me.

In your article, you wrote that Alan Wright's job "would be to tear down the work of every lawyer who came before him." You undertook to tear down me.

James F. Keegan
Attorney at law

Editor's note: We stand by the accuracy of the article, which did not imply that Mr. Keegan is anything other than a competent, diligent attorney.

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