Interview with Tina Duroy

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Table of Contents 
  •  Effects on James' Family 
  •  How the Community Responded 
  •  Mental Illness, Schizophrenia, and Down Syndrome 
  •  Pictures of James 
  •  James' Mood Before the Execution 
  •  The Hospitality House and Anticipating the Execution 
  •  After the Execution and James' Belongings 
  •  Witnessing the Execution 
  •  James' Last Words 
  •  James' Funeral 
  •  Final Comments on the Execution, the Funeral, the Trial and James' Mental Illness 
  •  Watch Video 1 of "Interview with Ms. Tina Duroy" 
People and Organizations 
  •  Amnesty International 
  •  Atwood, Dave 
  •  Bobby Gene 
  •  Colburn, James 
  •  Cox, Cathy 
  •  Fabian 
  •  Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (TCADP) 
  •  California 
  •  Chicago 
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  •  RAYMOND: [Inaudible] affected you and your mom. Your dad, how was he affected? 
  •  TINA DUROY: My dad was actually my stepfather, he married my mother when I was eleven, but he was the best. He was awesome. He took care of us all like we were his own. 
  •  DUROY: And he loved James. He took care of James. He was affected a lot by watching my mother because my mother pretty much gave up. She did. My mother was not herself, I guess, mentally strong. 
  •  DUROY: I mean our family is very family-oriented. To watch your family go through something like that you just feel like you can't take care of your family, you know? [Phone rings] 
  •  RAYMOND: You have another brother in California. 
  •  TINA DUROY: Bobby Gene. 
  •  RAYMOND: Bobby Gene. How much younger is he than you? 
  •  TINA DUROY: He just turned thirty-three. Yeah, he's twelve years younger than me. 
  •  RAYMOND: So a baby, baby. 
  •  TINA DUROY: He was my stepfather's child. 
  •  RAYMOND: Okay. Was he around when this happened? 
  •  TINA DUROY: He was a baby. He really doesn't know a lot about my brother. He wasn't—first-hand he didn't know a lot about it but he knows what we've said, he has seen what my mother has gone through at the end and actually I sent him the book to California. 
  •  DUROY: He was there for the execution himself with my dad. He's been a trooper. I mean to be thirty-three, in the last eight years he's lost his mother, his stepbrother, and his dad. 
  •  RAYMOND: That's a lot. 
  •  TINA DUROY: Yeah, it's a lot. I mean I'm forty-five and I have no parents, no grandparents. I have two brothers. I thank God for what I do have, I guess. 
  •  RAYMOND: There's so many different ways I want to—when your family was going through all of this, both with James being sick before he committed these crimes, and did you have family or community—I mean a wider community that was— 
  •  TINA DUROY: Supportive— 
  •  RAYMOND: Supportive, or how did people treat you during this, and James during this. 
  •  TINA DUROY: There were mixed feelings about it. I mean you either had people that understood it and people that didn't understand it. So you knew who you could talk to about it or you knew who you couldn't talk to about it, or like there was a friend of mine that her mother wouldn't let her come around me anymore, or stuff like that. 
  •  DUROY: But it's just it's mixed. And you could understand peoples fear of it they're, like I said, they're uneducated just like most of us are. 
  •  RAYMOND: Were you ever part of a support group for people with mentally ill people in their family or anything like that? 
  •  TINA DUROY: Well I'm in a grief counseling, of course, because I had so many losses. You know I've done a lot with the Texas Coalition and Amnesty International. I mean I've spoken at Chicago, in Austin on the Capitol. I've done a lot for Dave Atwood—which he's awesome—with the Texas Coalition. 
  •  DUROY: I mean I try to do as much as I can, there's probably more that I can do but, like I said, me, I just can't re-live it everyday. I can't. I wish I could because I probably could help more people but I just can't. 
  •  RAYMOND: Yeah. No I didn't mean to suggest— 
  •  TINA DUROY: No, I know. I'm just saying— 
  •  RAYMOND: But when you were going through these problems trying to get James help and your mother was and everybody was concerned, was there anybody that you could turn to for help in the community? 
  •  TINA DUROY: No. 
  •  RAYMOND: No. 
  •  TINA DUROY: No, no. Nobody. Even when I was married and I had my first son my ex-husband wouldn't let me take my son to the prison to see my brother. People just didn't understand it. They just thought he was a vicious person or he was bad but no. 
  •  DUROY: No. Especially—I mean I'm forty-five and as a teenager it was still unheard of to talk about. I mean when my parents and my grandparents were younger I mean you didn't talk about mental illness. The Kennedy's had a mentally ill child they never talked about her. 
  •  DUROY: She was put away they didn't talked about her because they think it's something that they've done wrong. They don't understand mental illness as far as schizophrenia, it's like being born with Down Syndrome. I'd rather, much rather, see my brother born with Down Syndrome, at least I would have seen him smile. 
  •  DUROY: James never smiled. He never smiled. Only when he was young I can remember him smiling but he never smiled. Down Syndrome they smile, they're content. When they passed the law not to execute mentally ill, it was the mentally retarded. 
  •  DUROY: But you know it was hard for me to watch my brother in the system. It was hard. I mean I don't know how much it was have deteriorated me more to watch him, to go visit. I would not not go visit him, but I don't know where I would be at today and I know that sounds so sad. 
  •  RAYMOND: Was he getting mental health treatment at the end? 
  •  TINA DUROY: Nope. No, no. The first year they thought he was a drug abuser and they didn't have him on any, any medication. My mother, the first time she went to go see him he had a muzzle on his mouth. Yeah. 
  •  RAYMOND: The muzzle was from what? 
  •  TINA DUROY: 'Cause he was spitting. Yeah, yeah. But you could look at the picture of when he was arrested—I'll show you—of when he was arrested. [Finds a picture in a photo album]. This is what he looked like when he was arrested [Points to picture]. And this is what he looked like the day before he was executed [Points to another picture]. 
  •  DUROY: His teeth were all rotten. Look at his eyes. What does that tell you right there? Look at his eyes! So, no he didn't get help in the hospital—I mean in the prison. He didn't get the help. Not at all. 
  •  RAYMOND: What is that picture on the front? 
  •  TINA DUROY: That's a picture of James and I when we were children. 
  •  RAYMOND: And were you living here then or in— 
  •  TINA DUROY: No, in Houston. 
  •  RAYMOND: That's a beautiful picture. Do you remember when that was taken? 
  •  TINA DUROY: Yep. And we actually have home videos of us running around in the yard and stuff. I can remember James and I at this age very well; when we'd go to the river with my grandparents and just do stuff. And then this was the night that my aunt was calling—well I was having dinner and my aunt was calling asking about his funeral arrangements. 
  •  DUROY: Yeah. The anticipation of knowing somebody is going to die, I mean when you—when somebody dies in a car wreck or something it's very traumatic. But try just thinking, oh my brother is going to die on this day. They're going to stick a needle in his arm and he's going to die on this day. 
  •  DUROY: This was the day after he died. I'm in Hobby Lobby getting dry flowers—look at my face—getting dry flowers to put on his gravesite because I live so far away [Flips through photographs]. 
  •  DUROY: And then this is me leaving the courthouse, getting some documents with Fabian that made the book. And this is me coping on antidepressants, and sleeping pills, and alcohol. 
  •  DUROY: I felt so alone because I was having to plan my brother's funeral. I mean my stepfather was [inaudible] and my uncle, everybody was there but it just didn't seem fair. And this was the day of his execution. 
  •  RAYMOND: Who's the baby? 
  •  TINA DUROY: My nephew. 
  •  RAYMOND: He's a cute little guy. 
  •  TINA DUROY: And this was one day in the parking lot when Fabian went with me and I had a breakdown because after I left out of there and I just—he followed me everywhere. 
  •  RAYMOND: Now Fabian is the Swiss— 
  •  TINA DUROY: The Swiss photojournalist and he won photojournalist of the year for this "Diary of an Execution." This was the day before my brother was going to be executed. That's just me sitting around trying not to think about it. This was getting ready, and this was the blanket I crocheted to go underneath his foot—feet. 
  •  RAYMOND: Is that black? 
  •  TINA DUROY: Yeah, because he wore a black t-shirt so I made it black. And see my picture that's up there? That's my momma picture. And that was my husband. He had worked all night; he worked the night shift and had to drive me so Fabian— 
  •  RAYMOND: To the execution? 
  •  TINA DUROY: Uh-huh [affirms]. He's skinny. He was way skinnier then [laughs]. And this is why—before they execute you they give you two days—you get like a seven-hour all day visit, and he was in a good mood, and I was telling my husband, 
  •  DUROY: "He was telling me this." And this was the drive from the Polunsky Unit, which was where my brother was, to the Walls Unit where they were going to execute him. 
  •  RAYMOND: You said that he was in a good mood. James was in a good mood? 
  •  TINA DUROY: Mm-hmm [affirms]. 
  •  RAYMOND: What kind of stuff was he telling you that day? 
  •  TINA DUROY: Since his first stay of execution he was telling me to not do anymore. He was ready. And he had had a chaplain, Cathy Cox, which she was an awesome, awesome woman. And she was with him for a long time. 
  •  DUROY: And he had made his peace with God. He was ready to go. He didn't want to stay here anymore. This is the sign-in book at the Hospitality House. The Hospitality House is where the families go to sit to anticipate the death of your family member. This is what they have on the wall in the Hospitality House. 
  •  DUROY: These are the men that have been executed in the state of Texas. My brother's picture now hangs here. I signed into a book. This is the Hospitality House, them keeping us busy until the time, because you don't know when they're going to take you over, if you're going to get a stay, or whatever. 
  •  DUROY: And this is Billy's ex-wife and his daughter and myself. Yeah that's Billy's daughter. 
  •  RAYMOND: She's pretty. 
  •  TINA DUROY: This is my dad, my brother, and all of us. We're saying prayer with the pastor before we go over for the execution. This is, again, the same prayer. This is my cousin, me. This is me waiting in the dark by myself. This is me talking to my brother for the last time. 
  •  DUROY: I did not like these people. They ran the photojournalist off. They're for the death penalty but they're in the Hospitality House. 
  •  RAYMOND: What is—tell me about this Hospitality House. 
  •   TINA DUROY: Hospitality House is at the Walls Unit where they have the family go and sit and anticipate the lethal injection of your family member. It's supposed to be to make the family comfortable, but it's not. 
  •  RAYMOND: How do you know they're for the death penalty? 
  •  TINA DUROY: Okay. How do I know they're for the death penalty? [Flips to photograph] 
  •  RAYMOND: Oh. 
  •  TINA DUROY: And because they made my friend leave. Fabian, they made him leave. He met me at the funeral home. 
  •  RAYMOND: So that's part of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice? 
  •  TINA DUROY: Oh, yeah. This is them they're roping-off with their police tape for the execution. This is me and my dad, and my baby brother. This is Cathy Cox, his chaplain. This is the picket line where my family stood. This is my husband there with a sign that I made. My son. 
  •  RAYMOND: Is that your oldest son? 
  •  TINA DUROY: I think so let me look. No that's my cousin. Sorry. That's my aunt. 
  •  DUROY: We had like so many people. And then this is—he just took this. I don't know—of all the cars lined up. And then this—as soon as my brother was executed this is what I walked out to: his personal belongings on the sidewalk in an orange mesh bag. Yep. These three officers were there. 
  •  DUROY: We walked out the door, down here, and these were his personal belongings, what were left, I mean, I had gotten everything. He had canned sodas, he gave away like his coffee pot and everything else, his radio to other inmates because I didn't need them and he wanted to. 
  •  DUROY: This is me talking to the media after my brother was executed with a picture. His chaplain, Cathy Cox, had arranged for us to go to the funeral home afterwards, which that was unusual. 
  •  DUROY: But he wanted a Bible. He wanted a Bible to be put on his chest. He said that he could put one in his pocket, so they let him have this one in his pocket. 
  •  RAYMOND: They didn't want—they didn't like it— 
  •  TINA DUROY: When you go into the execution room, he's strapped down like this. His hands are wrapped in Ace bandage like this so you can't see. So it's like this. He's like a coroner body that's wrapped in a white sheet, cuffed at the chest. They already have the IVs running his arm to the wall. 
  •  DUROY: They have this size of a little window with the IVs going in and out. They have a man come down and bring down like a jockey microphone and ask him, "What's your last words?" And my brother said, "I can feel the drugs. It feels like I'm on drugs." 
  •  DUROY: And he said, "I'm sorry for everything I've ever done and I won't hurt anybody anymore." And that, to me—and he was looking straight at me and my aunt. He took—he laid like this and he was looking at me and he goes [takes a deep breath] and that was it. 
  •  DUROY: And like I said this is the first time I touched him in ten years. [Inaudible] this is—Fabian had gone to get the Houston—I mean the Huntsville paper to see what they'd printed. They printed it wrong or something. I don't know what it said. This is the next morning at my house reading the paper. And this is my brother's funeral in Corsicana. 
  •  RAYMOND: In Corsicana? 
  •  TINA DUROY: Uh-huh [affirms]. 
  •  RAYMOND: What's the connection to Corsicana? 
  •  TINA DUROY: My family is from there. Blakes—my family. My grandparents are buried in Corsicana. My parents are here but I had a—so he went there. But he had a funeral. And this is me [inaudible]. And I never watch them put the dirt on anybody in my family. I've never done it. I don't like it. 
  •  DUROY: And then this—he said he put it like this—him upside down and me this way—to see how it turns peoples lives around. But look at this picture of my brother versus this picture. He's not suffering anymore. And that's the only thing that gave me any peace. 
  •  DUROY: He's not suffering in the hands of our society anymore. And any time I ever go to talk about my brother and I say his name, I say the way the state identifies him and I give his prison number 169999. 
  •  RAYMOND: Did you call him "James"? 
  •   TINA DUROY: Mm-hmm [affirms]. 
  •  RAYMOND: Did he ever have any nicknames? 
  •  TINA DUROY: No. His first name is my oldest son's first name and then his middle name is my youngest son's middle name, James Blake. 
  •  DUROY: You know if anything ever comes out of what is taking place right now, my hope is that not another person goes through what I've gone through. That I've lost the family that I've lost. 
  •  DUROY: Not just my brother, I lost my mother, she died because she could not; my dad grieved himself; my grandfather had a heart attack—or a stroke whenever he found out. It destroyed my whole family. 
  •  DUROY: And I'm sorry. I'm sorry that my brother did what he did. And on the day of the execution her son, ironically, that was named James Colburn, had the same name—it was in the obituary, my mother thought it was a misprint. 
  •  DUROY: My mother went to the woman's funeral. But he was there at the execution with two of his nephews that were like fifteen years old just to watch it. Nobody during the trial—I mean I'm not trying to make excuses for this woman—but she was mentally ill, too. 
  •  DUROY: But during the whole trial no one showed up for her side of the family. I mean it's just horrible. They treat these people that come into the court system like animals. I mean it's just like—it's just another number. But it affects a lot of people, a lot of people. And I wish all of y'all the luck in taking care of doing what y'all can do about— 
  •  RAYMOND: Anything you want to tell people that they should know? I mean you've said a lot, but anything you want to leave them with? 
  •  TINA DUROY: You know how many times I've thought of this? What I'd say if I really wanted to say something. I just think that we need to be more educated, that we could avoid so many problems if we were educated. That our criminal system wouldn't go to the extreme they do if they were treated for the mental help they needed. 
  •  DUROY: Our country needs some mental facilities. It does. There is no "if," "and," or "buts" about it. And I firmly believe that our prison system would be cut in half because in our prison system most of them are mentally ill. And I would hate to be a mentally ill person and suffer at the hands of— 
  •  DUROY: I mean being mentally ill and being locked up and not having your medication to have that—I mean my brother had the demand hallucinations and it was just horrible. I just wish things could change. I do. And I just wish that more people would be open and honest about the mental illness in their family. 
  •  DUROY: Don't be ashamed of it. There's nothing to be ashamed about it. You're born with it. You're born with it like if your child had Down Syndrome. They are born with it. Schizophrenia may not surface until you are in your puberty years, but you are born with it. It's nothing to be ashamed of. 
  •  RAYMOND: Thank you, Tina. 
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Title:Interview with Tina Duroy
Abstract:Tina Duroy is the sister of James Blake Colburn, who was executed on March 26, 2003 for the 1994 murder of Peggy Murphy. In the beginning of Video 1, Duroy discusses her childhood, her early family life, and growing up with James; she then narrates the events that she believes contributed to the triggering of her brother's schizophrenia and describes perceived changes in his personality and his experiences as his condition worsened. Duroy then discusses the capital murder trial and her family's responses to James' conviction and sentence. In Video 2, Duroy describes the effects of the execution and the process leading up to it on her immediate family members. She also continues to reflect on how the broader community responded to James' situation, as well as the social stigma surrounding mental illness. She then describes her activities during James' last days, including her stay at the Hospitality House in Huntsville, her last interaction with James, her witnessing of James' execution, and her experience at the funeral home. Duroy concludes by offering her thoughts on society's responses to mental illness, and the intersection of mental illness and the criminal justice system. Throughout this interview, Duroy shares photographs taken by Fabian Biasio, which document her life during James' last days and were compiled as part of a 2005 exhibit "Diary of an Execution." This interview took place on August 11, 2008, at Tina's home in Conroe, Montgomery County, Texas.
Sequence:2 of 2
  • Tina DuroyRole: Narrator
  • Texas After Violence ProjectRole: Collaborator
  • Virginia Marie RaymondRole: Interviewer
  • Gabriel Daniel SolisRole: Videographer
  • Gabriel Daniel SolisRole: Transcriber
  • Kimberly Ambrosini-BaconRole: Proofreader
Date Created:2008/08/11
Geographic Focus:North America--United States--Texas
Geographic Base:North America--United States--Texas--Austin
Type of Resource:Moving image
    This electronic resource is made available by the University of Texas Libraries solely for the purposes of research, teaching and private study. All intellectual property rights are retained by the legal copyright holders. The University of Texas does not hold the copyright to the content of this file. Formal permission to reuse or republish this content must be obtained from the copyright holder.




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