GRACE -- the Gulf Region Advocacy Center -- specializes in defending indigents facing the death penalty. Naturally, fund-raising for such an undertaking can be problematical.
To encourage donations, they're selling T-shirts for $20. The trouble is, according to HPD's crime-victims advocate Andy Kahan, the design on the shirts is done by convicted cop-killer Juan Quintero.
"It obviously strikes a chord," Kahan tells Hair Balls. "That they're using a cold-blooded killer who murdered a Houston police officer doesn't sit well with people."
Kahan says he talked with GRACE and was told only the shirt's design was by "a client" of the organization, but he says he is "99.99 percent sure" it is Quintero who did it. (We've asked GRACE director Danalynn Recer for comment
The design on the back but haven't heard back. See update.)
Quintero was convicted in 2006 of murdering HPD officer Rodney Johnson, and is currently in prison.
Kahan says if Quintero received any compensation for designing the shirt, it can be forfeited and passed on to the victim's survivors. Even if no compensation was involved, Quintero might be found to be running a business from prison and would have needed to register, he says.
Kahan, who has made a specialty of fighting "murderabilia", says he is making inquiries with TDCJ.
"I'm hoping we will be able to shut down this insidious industry," he says.
Update: Recer responds:
GRACE is a client-centered charity, and our clients have designed the graphics we use on our T-shirts, website, and various logo items given to donors. None of them have ever been paid; nor do they pay us. Our role as representatives is to present the full lives and fundamental humanity of our clients, their talents and strengths, their tragic flaws and failures, their remorse and their capacity for redemption.
In Mr. Quintero Perez's case, the same person who shot a police officer is also a man of faith who loves his family, worked multiple jobs, helped friends in need, is a talented artist and a skilled mechanic. He accepts responsibility for his actions, is deeply remorseful and will spend the rest of his life in prison.