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 Brother Richard Daly
Video 1 of 3
Brother Richard Daly went to work for the Texas Catholic Conference, the legislative advocacy group representing Catholic bishops, in 1974. In Video 1, Brother Daly talks about his work against the death penalty and for prison reform, work largely inspired by Pauline and Charlie Sullivan who founded Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE). By the end of the 1970s, the Catholic bishops of Texas came out against the death penalty and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (now the National Conference of Bishops) publized a statement against the death penalty shortly thereafter. Brother Daly also describes his visits to Death Row, prison ministries, Father, and later Bishop, McCarthy, and the legislative positions of the Texas Catholic Conference. In Video 2, Brother Daly describes the organizing and activism by the United Farm Workers (UFW) and the Texas Farm Workers Union (TFWU), César Chávez, and human rights-oriented priests and bishops, most especially that of late Archbishop Patricio Flores of San Antonio. In Video 3, Brother Daly returns to a discussion about the death penalty; shares his admiration for the late Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago Joseph Bernadin; and discusses contradictions with the Catholic Church, including the Church's relationship to a variety of social justice issues. This interview took place on May 1, 2009 at St. Edward's University in Austin, Travis County, Texas.
Interview with Captain Arthur G. Cárdenas
Video 1 of 1
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 Deputy Roger Wade
Video 1 of 1
Roger Wade is Public Information Officer (P.I.O.), for the Travis County Sheriff's Office. He was a friend of Deputy Sheriff Keith George Ruíz, an officer who died in the line of duty on February 15, 2001, while part of a SWAT team attempting to serve a narcotics warrant at a residence in Del Valle. In this interview, Roger Wade explains how he came to work for the Sheriff's Office, his work as P.I.O., and in particular his actions and feelings as on the night of Deputy Ruíz's death. In this interview, Mr. Wade also thinks out loud about his reaction -- at the time of trial and years later -- to the Travis County District Attorney's decision not to seek the death sentence in the shooting of Keith Ruíz, even though murder of a law enforcement official is a capital crime in Texas. Mr. Wade also describes Deputy Ruíz's personal qualities, the danger of law enforcement work, and the effects of Deputy Ruíz's death on his coworkers in the Sheriff's Department.
Interview with Dr. William Petty
Video 1 of 3
At the time of this interview in November 2009, Dr. William Petty was head of Victims Services at the Austin Police Department in Austin, Texas. In Video 1 of this interview, Dr. Petty describes how he came to work in Victims Services and the difference between what counselors can do during a crisis or tragedy as opposed to months or years after the fact. They can offer resources and also -- more importantly -- what Dr. Petty calls "a ministry of presence." Dr. Petty also talks being a Black man working for an institution that he, and many other Black people, have had strong reasons to distrust and stay away from. He discusses, as well, self care and changes that have taken place in policing and victims services. Video 2 includes a discussion of what happened among people who found themselves at the Austin Convention Center after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In Video 3, Dr. Petty talks both about being an advocate for victims for marginalized people as well the pressures on police officers, chief among these being attitudes of the public and accusations of misconduct, and the stigma associated with seeking help.
Interview with Father Joe Lawless
Video 1 of 2
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.
Interview with Major Darren Long
Video 1 of 1
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 Mr. 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, Mr. 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). Mr. 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,
Mr. Pogue mentions specific people on Death Row. In Video 3, Mr. Pogue discusses the philosophy of incarceration and capital punishment as a form of human sacrifice. In Video 3, Mr. 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, Mr. Pogue discusses Vietnam and his personal intellectual growth. In Video 5, Mr. Pogue discusses documentary photographer Russell Lee and the purpose, politics, and
aesthetics of photography. In Videos 6 and 7, Mr. 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,
Interview with Mr. Andrew Forsythe
Video 1 of 2
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, Mr. 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, Mr. 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, Mr. 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. Mr. 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. Mr. 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 Mr. Forsythe's office in Austin, Travis County, Texas on May 21, 2008.
Interview with Mr. Christopher Gunter
Video 1 of 1
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, Mr. Gunter discusses his experiences prosecuting his first death penalty case when he was an Assistant District Attorney in Travis County. Mr. 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. Mr. 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. Mr. 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 Mr. Gunter's law office in Austin, Travis County, Texas
Interview with Mr. David Atwood
Video 1 of 3
David Atwood is an anti-death penalty activist. In Video 1, Mr. 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, Mr. Atwood describes an execution and outlines numerous problems with capital punishment. In Video 3, Mr. 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 Mr. Ireland Beazley
Video 1 of 2
Ireland Gene Beazley is the father of Napoleon Beazley, who was seventeen years when he fatally shot Mr. 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, Ireland 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, Ireland 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 Mr. 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, Mr. 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 Mr. Beazley was also in his final year at Sam Houston State University.
Interview with Mr. James Lohman
Video 1 of 2
James Lohman is an attorney who has represented clients sentenced to death in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Arkansas. In Video 1, Mr.
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 Mr. Jim Willett
Video 1 of 1
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, Mr. 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 Mr. John Holbrook
Video 1 of 1
Then-private investigator John Holbrook worked with the defense team for James Lee Clark, Jr., charged with the 1993 rape and murder of 17-year old Shari Catherine "Cari" Crews near Denton, Texas. (Clark was ultimately convicted, sentenced to death, and executed in 2007 for these crimes.) After his investigation, Holbrook suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. He attributes subsequent projects – photographing homeless people and Death Row inmates – to emotional and spiritual changes initiated by his role in this case. In this interview, he describes these events and processes as well as his visit to the Polunsky Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in order to photograph condemned male prisoners. He also reads aloud a letter from the Public information Office of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice banning him from interaction with condemned inmates. This interview took place on August 7, 2008 in Benbrook, Tarrant County, Texas.
Interview with Mr. Larry Daves
Video 1 of 4
In Video 1, Mr. Daves describes how he and small group of recent U.T. Law School graduates first went to Nacogdoches in the early 1970s to assist voter registration efforts in Black communities; the virulent anti-Black racism and poor material conditions the students observed in East Texas; how they started a legal services office; effects of single-member districting; and his first criminal trial. He also describes his current work with the Piñon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition as it resists U.S. Army plans to turn much of Southeastern Colorado into a training area for a ground war against China. In Video 2 and the first part of Video 3 he recounts the capital murder trial of Herman and Thurman Davis. In Video 3, Mr. Daves describes his successful representation of undocumented immigrant children barred by Texas statute from attending public school, a case that he filed in federal court under Judge William Wayne Justice, and that ultimately reached the U.S. Supreme Court as Plyler v. Doe. Video 3 also describes Daves' unsuccessful representation of Mexican American women workers who lost their jobs and organized as Fuerza Unida when Levi's closed its San Antonio plant. Video 4 concerns Daves' upbringing in New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle, including high school in Amarillo, his family's early encounters with law enforcement and juvenile incarceration, and finding his way to Washington University and then U.T. Law School.
Interview with Mr. Leon Grizzard
Video 1 of 1
A lawyer since 1978, Mr. Leon Grizzard has spent most of his professional career as a criminal defense attorney in Austin, Travis County. In this interview, Mr. Grizzard recalls three capital murder trials. John ("Jackie") Elliott was convicted of the 1986 capital murder of Joyce Munguia and executed in 2003. David Madrigal was convicted in the 1991 capital murder of Department of Public Safety (DPS) Trooper Carlos Ray Warren and sentenced to life imprisonment. Paul Vallejo was acquitted of a 1990 capital murder charge in the killing of cab driver Eleazar Hinojosa, after Austin Police Department investigator Brett McDonald expressed doubts about Mr. Vallejo's guilt. Two months after this interview, a jury convicted another man for murders originally attributed to Paul Vallejo. This interview took place in Austin, Travis County, Texas on June 4, 2008.
Interview with Mr. Ray Hill
Video 1 of 3
Ray Hill is a prison activist and queer activist as well as the founder of The Prison Show, a radio program that has aired weekly on Houston's Pacifica radio station KPFT 90.1 FM since March 1980. In Video 1, Mr. Hill shares the inspiration for his early activism; his experiences during his incarceration in the Texas prison system; and his work as a community organizer. Mr. Hill describes how he helped to organize the Houston Gay Caucus, now known as the Houston Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Political Caucus, as well as his role in founding The Kaposi's Sarcoma Committee, which later became The KS/AIDS Foundation and is now The AIDS Foundation Houston. At the end of Video 1 and the beginning of Video 2, Mr. Hill discusses the origins of The Prison Show; his activism in prison reform, including his role in the creation of the program Gang Rejection and Disassociation (GRAD); and his perceptions of the criminal justice system. This interview took place on October 5th, 2010 at the offices of KPFT FM in Houston, Harris County, Texas.
Interview with Mr. Sam Millsap
Video 1 of 5
Mr. Sam Millsap is a former Bexar County District Attorney who is now in private civil practice in San Antonio. In this interview, he describes his background, education, work in state politics, and decision to run for office. Describing his tenure as D.A., he describes his work on to discover, chargee, prosecute, and in aid in the prosecution by other counties of Genene Jones. He also explains that he had no doubt about the guilt of Rubén Cantú, who was executed on August 24, 1993 for a crime he did not commit. Mr. Millsap explains that his recognition of Mr. Cantú's innocence of the crime for which he was executed has caused him to oppose the death penalty, and in fact to campaign for its abolition.
Interview with Mr. Steve Hall
Video 1 of 3
Steve Hall is the director of StandDown Texas Project, which advocates "a moratorium on executions and a state-sponsored review of Texas' application of the death penalty." In Video 1, Mr. Hall describes the renewal of capital punishment in Texas, which he facilitated and witnessed in his capacity as Chief of Staff for Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox from 1983 to 1991. Texas executed thirty-six people during this period. Hall also draws on his experience, between 1993 and 1996, working for the Texas Resource Center, which was charged with both directly representing and recruiting pro bono lawyers to represent inmates on death row. In Video 2, Hall continues to discuss major issues in death penalty jurisprudence and politics. In Video 3, Hall identifies signs that the death penalty may be disappearing. This interview took place on January 28 and February 4, 2009 in Austin, Travis County, Texas.