In May of 1999, my brother's girlfriend, Jamie Hart, was raped and murdered. Her naked and broken body was found by a jogger on Old Reliance Road, a little north of the cities of Bryan and College Station. Her death was investigated by the local police and the Texas Rangers. Unfortunately, a sickeningly long portion of that investigation centered on my brother. My family hired an attorney on retainer and my brother moved home to North Texas. Not only had he lost Jamie, but his world was turned upside down.
A year later, in 2000, the man that killed Jamie raped and murdered another young woman, Carolyn Casey. Ynobe Matthews lived in the same apartments as Casey. He set a fire in her apartment to destroy the evidence of his crimes. Matthews had a history of assaulting women and during his murder trial of Carolyn Casey, he admitted to forcibly entering Jamie's car and raping her, though he said he didn't kill her, that she jumped from the moving car after the rape.
Ynobe Matthews gave up his appeals and was executed by the State of Texas. I don't speak for Jamie's family or Carolyn's, but for me, vengeance is not a reason to take a life.
Last night Troy Davis was executed in Georgia for a crime I don't think he committed, while here in Texas, Lawrence Brewer was executed for the vicious murder of James Byrd. One of Byrd's daughters said yesterday that the execution does not serve justice to her father. I think about Jamie and Carolyn often, though I don't talk about it except to longtime friends who remember and to my family.
As Jamie's case was investigated and in the years since, I have been grateful that my brother is a well-educated, middle-class man. I do not believe our justice system is infallible. We are human, we make mistakes and the death penalty is carried out unfairly on the poor and minorities.
I don't believe in capital punishment and I want better for my country.