"The defendants swarmed out of their vehicles, chased Paul down a dead-end street, surrounded him and they attacked — beating the defenseless Paul Broussard with a nail-studded two-by-four, kicking him in the face, chest and groin with steel-toed boots, crushing his testicles, hitting him with their fists and, finally, Jon Christopher Buice stabbed him to death." - Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos, to parole board
Carol Christian reports for the Houston Chronicle: Sometime in October, Jon Buice is set to walk out of a West Texas prison a free man, clear of his debt to the state for killing gay Houston banker Paul Broussard in 1991. But a growing contingent of local elected officials is working behind the scenes to make sure Buice doesn't taste freedom quite yet. Buice (pronounced "Bice") is serving 45 years in prison for his part in Broussard's murder, which stunned this city two decades ago. Commissioners in the Amarillo office of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 2-0 on July 1 to approve Buice's parole. (For the benefit of Pups who reside outside the Lone Star State: Amarillo is a medium-sized city awash in fundie Christian extremism. One especially virulent religious group there is called Repent Amarillo. RA Pastor David Grisham made the news last year by threatening a statewide boycott of Houston for the sin of electing a lesbian mayor. In Amarillo, the Qur'an is burned by born-again evangelicals. There is a map with Google pushpins for pointing out hotspots of "wickedness." So it's really not surprising that Amarillo-based officials would find nothing amiss in allowing Buice to go free after serving less than half of his sentence.) Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos recently wrote a letter to the board, graphically recounting how 10 Woodlands-area "co-conspirators" drove to Montrose to bully homosexuals, targeting Broussard, then 27, and two friends... Whitmire said it's unusual for him to write a letter to the parole board. "I think if you do it too often, they think it's your routine," he said. "It's not my routine. I don't get people in prison or out of prison." State Sen. Rodney Ellis and state Reps. Jessica Farrar and Garnet Coleman, all Houston Democrats, also sent the board letters. (Republican politicians presumed to be "tough on crime" are invariably not as concerned when the victims are LGBT.) Coleman said part of his reason for writing was this crime's "heinous nature." (Did I mention that Jon Buice "found Jesus" while he was incarcerated? Amarillo's Board of Pardons would consider this development sooooo inspiring.)
My partner and I were living in the Montrose area when this violent murder took place. It happened, in fact, less than three miles from our house. Even in the early nineties, anti-gay violence in the Bayou City was not uncommon. This particular hate crime, however, sent major shock waves throughout the community. The metro police were, shall we say, casual in pursuing the perps. Prior to the trial, backroom deals were cut with Buice's accomplices that would make Jack McCoy cringe. Neighborhood outrage and political pressure resulted in some justice for Broussard, no thanks to the HPD. But this was the first time many LGBT Houstonians realized how vulnerable to assault we all were - and that we could not depend upon street cops to pursue gay bashers.
Although the situation in Houston is different now, and a better relationship exists between law enforcement and the gay community, this case stirs up bad memories. If Buice is released prematurely, it will seem like nothing has changed.