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TAVP Interviews with Families of Individuals Executed by the State

 

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Interview with Burnett Clay and Helen Phillips

Video 1 of 2

Burnett Clay is the grandmother and adoptive mother of Keith Bernard Clay, who was sentenced to death in 1997 for a 1994 robbery and murder in Houston, Harris County, Texas. Helen Phillips is Burnett Clay's sister. In Video 1, Clay and Phillips discuss Keith Clay's background; his life and ministry on Texas' Death Row; and his execution and funeral in 2003. They also discuss their relationship with Johnny Ray Johnson, another inmate and friend of Keith Clay's, to whom they ministered. In Video 2, Clay and Phillips describe growing up in their Church; their religious ministry; and their visits to Death Row. This interview took place on May 16, 2009 in Austin, Travis County, Texas.

 
Interview with Derrek Brooks

Video 1 of 3

Derrek Brooks is the son of Charlie Brooks Jr., (also known as Sharif Ahmad Abdul-Rahim at the time of his death), who was the first person executed by lethal injection (on December 7, 1982) in the United States. In Tape 1, Brooks recounts stories he has heard about his father’s childhood and from his own childhood; describes interactions he had with his father; shares what he knows about his father’s case and trial; and describes the effects of drugs on his father's life. In Tape 2, Brooks discusses life with his grandparents, and experiences at church as a child; the transformation of his neighborhood after the introduction of drugs; his father’s experiences in prison; and reflects on how his life has been shaped by his father's. In Tape 3, Brooks describes the day of the execution; the media attention his family received following the execution and funeral; the attention Charlie Brooks Jr.’s case receives today; and his own thoughts about the use and future of the death penalty in Texas. This interview took place in February 2013, at his mother's home in the Echo Heights neighborhood in Fort Worth, TX.

 
Interview with Ireland Beazley

Video 1 of 2

Ireland Gene Beazley is the father of Napoleon Beazley, who was seventeen years when he fatally shot John Luttig in Tyler, Smith County. The death sentence and execution of Napoleon Beazley sparked international protest; within three years of the incident the U.S. Supreme Court banned the practice of executing people who were juveniles at the time of their crimes. In Video 1, Beazley describes family life up until the time Napoleon was arrested; the apparent determination of officials to execute Napoleon before he was even arraigned; the trial and legal proceedings; and the effects of the tragedy on the family. In Video 2, Beazley additionally describes how faith, prayer, and the support of Black churches, family, and community enabled him to get through these tragic events. This interview took place on April 3, 2008. 

 
Interview with Jamaal Beazley

Video 1 of 1

Jamaal Beazley is the brother of the late Napoleon Beazley, who was executed in 2002 for a capital murder committed in 1994, at the age of seventeen. In the interview, Beazley reflects on the role of memory; recalls his reactions and his coping mechanisms during the arrest, conviction and eventual execution of his brother; considers the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions in the case; discusses the setting of the Walls, how the events have affected his family, possible perceptions of the victim's family, and the importance of communicating his message to others. The interview took place on April 4, 2008, in the public library near the Walls in Huntsville, Texas, where Beazley was also in his final year at Sam Houston State University.

 
Interview with Joyce Hazzard Easley

Video 1 of 1

Joyce Easley is the long-time friend and former wife of Charlie Brooks Jr., also known as Shareef Ahmad Abdul-Rahim, the first man to be executed by lethal injection in 1982. She is also the mother to two of Brooks’ children, his sons Derrek Brooks and Keith Brooks. In her oral history, Easley describes her childhood, her neighborhood and her experiences growing up; the introduction of drugs into the community; the birth of her two sons and their relationship with their father; and the effects Charlie Brooks Jr.’s execution had on his family. This interview took place on February 6, 2013 at Easley’s home in the Echo Heights neighborhood of Forth Worth, Texas.

 
Interview with Keith Brooks

Video 1 of 3

Keith Brooks, a youth minister, small business owner, and native of Fort Worth, Texas, is the second son of Charlie Brooks, Jr., the first man to ever be executed by lethal injection in the United States. In Tape 1, Brooks discusses his experiences growing up in segregated Fort Worth; the gang culture that permeated his neighborhood in the 1970s; memories of his father’s arrest and trial; his experiences with the NAACP; his own time spent in prison; his father’s conversion to Islam; and his own views on the ethics of the death penalty in Texas. In Tape 2, Brooks discusses his experiences with segregation and desegregation of public schools in Fort Worth; his relationship with his family; how his father’s notoriety affected his life and that of his family; his time spent at Texas A&M University and his father’s appeal process. In Tape 3, Brooks discusses the day of his father’s execution, December 7, 1982; his family’s history as sharecroppers in Texas; his experiences as a Black student at Texas A&M; life after his father’s execution; his relationship with Christianity; and the ways in which his father’s legacy has impacted his life and the lives of his family members. This interview took place on February 6, 2013, in the Echo Heights neighborhood of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas.

 
Interview with Lee Greenwood

Video 1 of 2

Lee Greenwood is the mother of Joseph Nichols, who was executed on March 7th, 2007, for a murder committed on October 13th, 1980. In Video 1, Greenwood recounts their life together, her son's activities as he was growing up, and her surprise upon hearing of his conviction. She then reflects on how she feels his trial was "grossly mishandled" and how he was found guilty under the "law of parties," although the punishment phase ended as a mistrial. She speaks about her regrets, what she would have done had she known certain laws, and then goes on to describe what she witnessed throughout his trials, and how she felt they were unfair. She then talks about Joseph's attitudes in jail, how he continued to be kind and giving while on Death Row, and what she learned from the letters he sent, including Joseph's relationship with Kenneth Foster and pen pals in Europe. Greenwood shifts to the night of the incident and describes her interaction with her son that night. Continuing with the trial, we hear about Nichols' family's reactions to the court proceedings, a detailed account of those proceedings, and the mistakes she felt were made. Greenwood concludes with a description of her son's execution day and her peceptions of the criminal justice system. This interview took place on August 27, 2009 at the Walter Branch neighborhood library in Houston, Harris County, Texas.

 
Interview with Tammy Anderson

Video 1 of 2

Tammy Anderson is the mother of Anthony Guy Fuentes, who was executed by the State of Texas on November 17, 2004 at the age of thirty for a 1994 robbery and murder at a Houston convenience store. In Video 1, Anderson shares early memories of her eldest son and discusses Anthony's childhood, his experiences with family and in school, his first job and his relationship with his fiancée. She also discusses the beginnings of Anthony's troubles with the law, his arrest for capital murder when he was nineteen, his trial and death sentence in 1996, the resulting years on Death Row, his claims of innocence of the murder charge, and the effects of these events on Anthony and his family. In Video 1, she further describes Anthony's time in prison, their writing practice and correspondence, the friendships he developed, his relationship with his spiritual advisor and his deepening Christianity, as well as Anthony's execution day, his funeral, his cremation, and the family's activities and coping after his death. In Video 2, Anderson continues to describe Anthony's relationship with his family and his experiences in school, discusses her ongoing efforts to prove Anthony's innocence of the murder charge, and elaborates on the aftermath of his execution, her memories and her methods for coping with her son's death. This interview took place on July 28, 2009 in Houston, Harris County, Texas.

 
Interview with Tina Duroy

Video 1 of 2

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.