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Gary Graham Redux


Gary Graham was a Texas inmate sentenced to death at the age of eighteen for the murder of fifty three year old Tucson, Arizona resident Bobby Lambert in Houston, Texas on May 13, 1981.  Despite his continuous claims of innocence, Graham was executed by lethal injection on Thursday, June 22, 2000.  He spent nineteen years on death row.  At the time of Mr. Lambert’s murder, Graham was in the middle of a crime spree that included as many as twenty armed robberies with a .22 caliber pistol, a number of assaults, three attempted murders and one case of rape over a week’s time.

He was captured after he abducted fifty seven year old Lisa Blackburn, took her to a vacant lot where he beat and raped her.  Graham then took Ms. Blackburn back to her house, where he intended to rob her house, but then fell asleep.  Ms. Blackburn then took his gun and his clothes, and called the police.  Houston police managed to link him to a total of twenty two crimes committed between May 13th and May 20th.

Because his crimes were committed with a .22 caliber handgun, police included Graham’s photo in an array of photos presented to witnesses of Bobby Lambert’s murder.  One witness identified him as the murderer.  Gary Graham was charged with capital murder and sentenced to die by the world infamous Texas State sanctioned murder machine.

Gary Graham maintained his innocence of Mr. Lambert’s murder from the time of his arrest and throughout the nineteen years he spent on death row.  The circumstances of his conviction for the murder were suspect and many people came to his defense.  His supporters, included such notables as Coretta Scott King, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Danny Glover, Kenny Rogers, Lionel Ritchie, Harry Belafonte and Ruby Dee.  His case brought the world’s attention to Texas because his conviction was based on the testimony of a single eyewitness.  There is a claim that the jury did not see crucial evidence that would have cleared Graham and that he suffered from poor legal representation at the time of his trial.

I was in Houston the night Gary Graham was executed.  And I must admit that I slept like a baby that night.  I never gave a single rat’s ass about him.  The man was the epitome of a reckless, uncaring, self centered example of humanity of the worst kind.  While people were working to free Gary Graham, I was asking why.  Why would the community work so hard to a free a man who did so much to abuse and misuse our community?  Every time I heard or saw the slogan “free Gary Graham”, I would cringe inside.  He did not deserve freedom.  Even if he did not kill Mr. Lambert he deserved to rot in jail.  He was nothing and no one that needed saving.

What needed saving was the community.  Unfortunately, if the police really did make a mistake and arrested the wrong person for Mr. Lambert’s murder that meant that there was a very good probability that we still had a murderer on the loose.  If Graham was railroaded like so many truly innocent people who are rammed through our justice system to satisfy our collective sense of revenge, then the community has a problem because we’re allowing the truly guilty to get away scot free and to potentially commit more crime putting the community at further risk.

I was reminded of these feelings when I read about Troy Davis and his case revolving around the murder of off duty Savannah, Georgia police officer Mark MacPhail.  Davis admits that he made a choice on the night of the murder to carry a gun.  He admits to exchanging gunfire with people he was arguing with that night.  And right after the murder of Mr. MacPhail, Davis changed his clothes and then suddenly hightailed it to Atlanta.  He may not have done the deed, but he did make himself look awfully suspicious.  I really don’t know and I’m actually grateful that I don’t have to spend my time trying to figure the entire mess out.

I am actually ecstatic to see that the Supreme Court practiced a little compassion despite the objections of Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence “I’ll be damned if I ever give a black man a break” Thomas.  The high court has granted Davis another day in court to plead his case of innocence.  We as a people should never be so quick to put people who might be innocent to death.  As a collective we should be empathetic enough to exhaust every avenue before taking the irreversible step of putting people to death.  People who are truly innocent should not be put to death even if they are scum.  Innocent scum is still innocent.

But make no mistake, if the question of his guilt remains unclear and the man is put to death in Georgia’s bid to become a carbon copy of the Texas’ ever efficient execution system, more than likely I’ll sleep well that night as well.  People who make the choice to do stupid and put our community at risk for no good reason but their own self centeredness, their inability to hold their fellowman in anything that resembles some kind of regard, do not deserve a rat’s ass worth of my sympathy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Thoughts

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