Texas After Violence Project
In 2009, the Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI) partnered with the Texas After Violence Project (TAVP), an independent, Austin-based, nonprofit organization. The mission of TAVP is to build an oral history archive that documents the effects of murder and capital punishment in Texas and serves as a resource for public dialogue on alternative ways to prevent and respond to violence.
The HRDI is working with TAVP to ensure the long-term preservation and access of its digital video testimonies, transcripts and organizational records.
Texas After Violence Project Collection
- Browse All Interviews (scroll down)
Interview with Alan Pogue
Video 1 of 7
Alan Pogue is a photographer who has documented movements for social justice and the problems those movements seek to eliminate for four decades. In Video 1, Pogue explains his entry into the Texas prison reform movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s via civil rights, anti-war, and student organizing. A member of the Austin Prison Coalition, he soon met Pauline and Charlie Sullivan, founders of Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE). Pogue's commitment to prison reform paralleled his growth as a documentary photographer: in Video 1, he describes photographing prisons in connection with Ruíz v. Estelle, the longest-running prison lawsuit in U.S. history. In Videos 1 and 2, Pogue mentions specific people on Death Row. In Video 3, Pogue discusses the philosophy of incarceration and capital punishment as a form of human sacrifice. In Video 3, Pogue also addresses the conditions on Death Row; general access to prisons; prison reform and anti-death penalty movements; and the theological doctrine of predestination in relation to criminal justice policy. In Video 4, Pogue discusses Vietnam and his personal intellectual growth. In Video 5, Pogue discusses documentary photographer Russell Lee and the purpose, politics, and aesthetics of photography. In Videos 6 and 7, Pogue shares what he saw in numerous Latin American countries when he traveled on behalf of CURE, which produced a 2006 evaluation of prisons in member nations of the Organization of American States (OAS). This interview took place on October 8, 2008 at the Texas Center for Documentary Photography in Austin, Travis County, Texas.
Interview with Andrew Forsythe
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Andrew Forsythe is a criminal defense attorney and has been practicing law in Austin, Texas since graduating from the University of Texas School of Law in 1978. In Video 1, Forsythe discusses his professional background; his stint as a prosecutor; his path to practicing as a criminal defense attorney; and his experiences representing James Carl Lee Davis, who was charged with capital murder in 1984, convicted and sentenced to death in 1985, and executed on September 9, 1997. In the second part of Video 1 and the first part of Video 2, Forsythe continues discussing the case of James Carl Lee Davis, including the questions of developmental disability and mental illness that were raised as mitigating factors in his defense; other memories of the trial; and visiting Davis on Death Row shortly before his execution. In the second part of Video 2, Forsythe discusses representing Kenneth McDuff at trial beginning in 1994 for a 1991 capital murder in Austin, Texas, and for which McDuff was ultimately sentenced to death. Forsythe discusses the unique challenges of defending McDuff, a man whose 1968 death sentence had been commuted to life after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the death penalty as unconstitutional in 1972, and who, after his parole in 1989, was sentenced to death a second time for a 1992 murder in Waco, Texas, a murder for which he was eventually executed on November 17, 1998. Forsythe discusses working on the case with his friend and colleague Chris Gunter; the effects of the trial on his personal and professional life; the legal and logistical challenges that arose, including changing venue to Seguin, Guadalupe County due to the publicity surrounding the case; interactions with jurors; and his thoughts on the death penalty in general and its implementation in Texas. This interview took place in Forsythe's office in Austin, Travis County, Texas on May 21, 2008.
Interview with Arthur "Cappy" Eads
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Arthur "Cappy" Eads served as the District Attorney in Bell County, Texas from 1976 - 2000. In Video 1, Eads describes the changes to the criminal justice system over the years and factors which influenced his professional career as a DA. He discusses his involvement in the establishment of the 'victim's rights movement', and the personal emotional toll death penalty cases had on him throughout his career. At the end of Video 1, Eads explains his involvement in introducing hypothetical questioning into criminal cases when working on the Barefoot trail. In Video 2, Eads reflects on his time as the President of the National District Attorneys Association and how the experience of such a high profile position changed his life and the rest of his career. Eads also discusses the differences between the experience of rural and metropolitan DAs; the process involved in jury selection; and the factors that lead him to retire. In Video 3, Eads shares some thoughts about his relationship with local law enforcement while being DA, and why conflict would sometimes occur professionally. This interview took place on May 17, 2011 in a courtroom in Salado, Bell County, Texas.
Interview with Arthur G. Cárdenas
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Captain Arthur (Art) Cárdenas is a member of the Command Staff of the Travis County Sheriff's Office. A founding member of the Travis County SWAT Team, then-Sergeant Cárdenas trained Keith G. Ruíz in "SWAT School." Deputy Ruíz died in the line of duty on February 15, 2001, while attempting to serve a warrant on a suspected narcotics dealer in Del Valle, Travis County. In this interview, Captain Cárdenas recalls the perseverance, dedication, skills, and humor of Deputy Ruíz, and describes the emotional intimacy and sense of family that develops among officers. Captain Cárdenas also recounts his own path, from seminarian to law enforcement officer, married father of three sons, boxing coach, and writer. This interview took place on July 23, 2008 in Austin, Travis County, Texas.
Interview with Burnett Clay and Helen Phillips
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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 Carolyn Mosley Samuel
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Carolyn Mosley Samuel is the mother of Ortralla LuWone Mosley, who was fifteen years old on March 28, 2003 when she was stabbed to death at Reagan High School by her sixteen-year-old ex-boyfriend. In Video 1, Mosley describes the history of abuse in her family; her struggle to interrupt those patterns as a parent; and the circumstances leading up to the death of her daughter. In Video 2, Mosley discusses the aftermath of the murder in the high school, in the courts, and in her decision to start a foundation to prevent teen dating violence and to become a correctional officer. In Video 3, Mosley describes reconciling with her mother before her mother's death. The interview took place on October 1, 2009 in Austin, Travis County, Texas.
Interview with Christopher Gunter
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Christopher M. Gunter is an attorney, and has practiced criminal law in Travis County since 1980, after earning his JD from the University of Texas School of Law. In this interview, Gunter discusses his experiences prosecuting his first death penalty case when he was an Assistant District Attorney in Travis County. Gunter discusses his encounters and his experiences while preparing his case against Leroy Barrow, who received a death sentence, a sentence that was ultimately reversed and replaced with a life sentence at a later trial. Gunter then describes his experiences serving as a defense attorney in two widely publicized capital murder trials: that of James Carl Lee Davis in 1985 and Kenneth McDuff in 1994, both of whom were found guilty, sentenced to death and executed. Gunter describes his collaboration with colleague Andrew Forsythe, his trial strategies, his feelings toward his clients and the trial process, his religious beliefs and the evolution of his personal views about the death penalty. This interview took place on July 25, 2008 in Gunter's law office in Austin, Travis County, Texas
Interview with Darren Long
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Darren Long is a Major in the Command Staff of the Travis County Sheriff's Office, and was a friend and colleague of Deputy Keith George Ruíz. Deputy Ruíz died early on the morning of February 15, 2001, when, as part of a SWAT team, he attempted to serve a narcotics warrant and the person sought shot through the door of the house, hitting Deputy Ruíz. In this interview, Major Long describes his background, his friendship with Keith Ruíz, the night of the shooting, and the resulting criminal investigation, trial, and sentence. Major Long also shares his own reactions and that of his colleagues both to Deputy Ruíz's death and to the decision of the District Attorney not to seek the death penalty for this capital crime. Major Long also explains the origin of SWAT teams and the process with which law enforcement agencies decide when to deploy SWAT teams. This interview took place in Austin, Travis County, Texas on August 25, 2008.
Interview with David Atwood
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David Atwood is an anti-death penalty activist. In Video 1, Atwood describes his involvement with the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, and his relationships with since-executed Death Row inmates including Richard Jones, Ronald Allridge, James Allridge, Antony Fuentes, Dominique Green or their families, as well as the family of murder victim Andrew Lastrapes. In Videos 2 and 3, Atwood describes an execution and outlines numerous problems with capital punishment. In Video 3, Atwood ascribes the relative silence of the contemporary Catholic Church about the death penalty to generational change: a generation of men who focus narrowly on abortion have replaced Vatican II-era clergy who cared about social justice in broad terms.This interview took place on September 25, 2008 in Houston, Harris County, Texas.
Interview with Debra McCammon
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Debra McCammon is the executive director of Hospitality House, a nonprofit ministry of the Texas Baptist Prisoner Family Foundation, providing complimentary temporary lodging, food, and spiritual counsel and witness for visiting families, friends and other guests of those incarcerated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (T.D.C.J.) in the Huntsville area. McCammon has been affiliated with the House since 1989, first as a volunteer and then as a member of the board of directors from 2001 to 2009, before becoming executive director in November 2009. In Video 1, McCammon describes the origins of Hospitality House, its history since its construction in 1986 and the participation of her church in its construction; her role as volunteer and board member; the duties and challenges she has faced as executive director; the procedures for running the House on a typical day; the role of the House on days of scheduled executions; and her experiences with and memories of staff, volunteers and guests of the House. In Video 2, McCammon elaborates on the origins of House, its relationship with local Chaplains; its relationship to T.D.C.J.; her vision of the importance of the House as a source of comfort and refuge for the families of prisoners and her efforts to raise awareness of the mission of the House and the needs of families. McCammon then gives a tour of the House, describing various items, including artwork by inmates and gifts from guests, and noting each room's history, function and significance. Throughout Video 2, McCammon continues to share anecdotes and stories of her experiences working at the House and her commitment to her spiritual mission. In Video 3, McCammon concludes her tour of the House, and shares her appreciation for all the volunteers that help shape and sustain the Hospitality House. This interview took place on July 25, 2011 at the Hospitality House in Huntsville, Walker County, Texas.
Interview with Dennis Longmire
Video 1 of 6
Dennis Longmire is an anti-death penalty activist and a professor of sociology at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. In Video 1, Longmire discusses his background, his residence in Huntsville, his interest in the death penalty as a topic of research and activism, his first silent vigil outside the Walls Unit and his role in the case of Eric Nenno, including his experience witnessing Nenno's execution on October 28, 2008. In Video 2, Longmire expands on his role in Eric Nenno's case, and discusses the role of religion in his intellectual and activist commitments. In Video 3, Longmire discusses Eric Nenno's trial in more detail, expands on the history of the prison system and executions in Texas, and compares the hospice movement with standing vigil outside the Walls Unit. In Video 4, Longmire discusses his prayer vigils and witnessing in the context of other activist strategies, and talks about the role of the Hospitality House in Huntsville. In Video 5, Longmire elaborates on his experiences standing on the corner outside the Walls Unit during executions, and considers trends in attitudes towards both the death penalty and abolition of the death penalty in Texas. In Video 6, Longmire discusses the wider communal effects of the death penalty on the town of Huntsville, media coverage of executions, and the interactions between families of the executed and families of murder victims. This interview took place on October 29, 2008 in Huntsville, Walker County, Texas.
Interview with Derrek Brooks
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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 Donna Hogan
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Donna Hogan is the mother of LeDuke Woodard, who was murdered in 2004 in Houston. As of July 2011, Woodard's murderer has not yet been identified. In Video 1, Donna Hogan describes how she and her husband learned of their son's death; the Houston Police Department investigation of her son's murder; her activities with Houston-based organizations Parents of Murdered Children and Unsolved Violent Crime Alert; her efforts to keep her son's memory alive; and the emotional and psychological after-effects of the murder. In Video 2, Hogan describes her opposition to the death penalty and her wish that her son's killer be apprehended. She provides additional information about her son's murder and describes the similarities and differences between the Parents of Murdered Children and the Unsolved Violent Crime Alert. Hogan compares the grief she felt at the death of her husband from cancer to that caused by the sudden killing of her son. Hogan tells of her efforts to remain connected with her son's children and advises people who lose loved ones to homicide to make sure to they find strong support systems, including support groups and counseling as necessary. This interview took place in Houston, Harris County, Texas on December 10, 2009.
Interview with Gloria Rubac
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Gloria Rubac, a retired teacher and writer, has been a committed civil rights, prison and death penalty activist since the early 1970s. In Tape 1, Rubac discusses the inspiration for her early activism; her introduction to prison activism in the 1970s; and her growing involvement in protests against the death penalty in the 1980s after its reinstatement in Texas in 1976. Rubac then describes her friendships with and advocacy on behalf of numerous death row inmates since 1982. At the end of Tape 1 and the beginning of Tape 2, Rubac describes her role in the founding of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, her current involvement in the group Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement, and the differences between the two groups. In the rest of Tape 2, Rubac reflects on her presence in Huntsville during executions; witnessing executions; attending funerals for executed friends; and her activist strategies and commitments. This interview took place on June 19, 2009 in Houston, Harris County, Texas.
Interview with Iliana López
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Iliana López was a high school student in 1996, when her close friend Brandon Shanks was murdered. In the beginning of Video 1, López describes growing up in San Antonio, Texas, and recalls the events leading up to Brandon's murder, including the trip she and her friends took to their usual hangout, the North Star Mall, where they met the young man who would later murder Brandon. López describes how Brandon went home with the man and how she came to find out that her best friend was dead. In Video 1, López also discusses the effects of the murder, the criminal justice process, and the 1999 trial on her life; her reactions toward the defense team's strategies at trial; and her attitudes toward the death penalty. In Video 2, López talks further about her memories of Brandon; the effects of Brandon's murder among his peers; her experiences during the trial, including her reactions toward the defense team's interrogation of Brandon's sexuality; and shares what she's learned in the aftermath of the murder. This interview took place on June 26, 2008 in Austin, Travis County, Texas.
Interview with Ireland Beazley
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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
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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 James Lohman
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James Lohman is an attorney who has represented clients sentenced to death in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Arkansas. In Video 1, Lohman explains how he got involved in capital defense work in Florida after his childhood in New York and talks about some of his specific cases, highlighting problems he sees in the entire death penalty system. In Video 2, he describes in detail several more cases he has worked on in Florida and Texas, including Ted Bundy and Jesse Tafero. This interview took place in Austin, Travis County, Texas on February 24, 2009.
Interview with Jim Willett
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Jim Willett is a retired prison warden of the Walls Unit who worked in the Texas prison system in various capacities for forty years, until his retirement in 2001. In this interview, Willett describes first learning about jobs in the prison system after moving to Huntsville to start school at Sam Houston State University; the training process and his trajectory from officer through captain to assistant warden and warden at both the James H. Byrd, Jr. Unit and the Huntsville Unit, or "Walls Unit"; his responsibilities as warden during executions at the Walls Unit; his experiences as warden during executions and funerals of inmates; his role as public spokesperson and his activities and accomplishments as a writer and speaker since his retirement; and his reflections on prison reform and the relationship between wardens and the prisons they run. This interview took place on March 2, 2011, at the Texas Prison Museum in Huntsville, Walker County, Texas where he is director.
Interview with Joe Lawless
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Father Joe Lawless has spent most of his professional career as a Catholic priest. In Video 1, Father Lawless recalls serving in the United States military during WWII, including fighting in Dachau, Germany. He also discusses his life after WWII, including his enrollment at the University of Georgia, and his introduction to Catholic teachings at the Blessed Pope John XXIII National Seminary in Massachusetts. Father Lawless then speaks about his responsibilities as a Catholic priest serving in different communities around the United States, including Compton, California, New Braunfels, Texas and Corpus Christi, Texas. At the end of Video 1 and in Video 2, Father Lawless discusses his work within the jail ministry and reflects on what he considers the repression of truth within various sectors of society. This interview took place on July 30, 2008 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Nueces County, Texas.