Larry Wayne Smith, the father of my children and my beloved husband, died in agony sometime between April 9 and April 11, 1991. According to police reports, he was forced into a motel bedroom closet, then stabbed and slashed repeatedly. Everything of value was stolen.

I was given the news over the phone about 11:00 p.m. by the Deer Park Medical Examiner. Why he couldn't send someone to tell me in person, I'll never know.

I didn't tell the children: my son, 9 years old and my daughter, 7 years old at the time. It was Friday morning and I put them on the bus for school. Later, when I was calmer, I called in a school counselor and she stood ready to help while I told them. I spent most of that weekend gathering information and arranging a funeral. Larry could not be viewed; he had lain in that closet in a warm Texas April for nearly three days. He was cremated. I kissed the box that we had decorated with the American flag and placed it in the niche. Gene and Robin and other close family members each placed a rose of their own within. I had his Veteran's plaque placed outside in the Military section of the cemetery. Then I went home to learn how to be a widow with two small children.

I visited the crime scene about a week after the murder. I had to - I had to see for myself what had happened to him, since so many well-meaning people kept the truth from me. I forced people to give me details that would help me understand Larry's last moments on earth.

Larry's convicted killer, Alvin E. Broxton had burst into my husband's motel room, and Larry apparently fought, valiantly, but the much larger man forced him back into a closet where he stabbed him 14 times. Blood smears, marks and bloody handprints on the walls and door provided mute evidence of the struggle. A pool of blood on the floor in the closet marked where Larry had lain. Broxton had shoved a table against the door, stole everything of value, and left. Larry was found April 11 by a co-worker, concerned as to why he hadn't shown up for work.

I took relics from the site to keep. I wasn't allowed to view the body, but was given a lock of hair. I think if I had been allowed to see him, I would not now be subconsciously searching for him, even now, after so many years. To me, somehow, he is not dead. For years, I slept with his jacket, for it retained his smell. I still miss him. I will always miss him. I've never remarried. And there is guilt, that somehow if I had not made him leave home, he would still be here where I could take care of him.

Larry and I met on a blind date (thank you, Pam and Donny) and were married in 1979 after a 5-month whirlwind courtship. Larry was a kind man, sweet and good-natured and cuddly. We had much in common, even the same coloring. We liked the same things, horses and rodeos and dancing and children. We were ideally suited to each other and we loved each other dearly. There was one problem we faced, and which would escalate as time went on: he was a heavy drinker and I was pretty much a teetotaler. We managed well, however, and brought two beautiful children into the world - together - Gene in 1981 and Robin in 1983. Larry also had a lovely daughter from a previous marriage, Michelle, born in 1972, who lived with her mother. We had a nice home, three children, and a bright future.

Sometimes life throws situations at you that you're not quite ready for. My mother had been diagnosed with ALS and was deteriorating at an alarming rate. To help my father with her daily care, we agreed to uproot ourselves and move next door. Living in such close proximity to his in-laws was a strain on Larry. Dealing with a job, an invalid mother and two babies was a strain on me. Our relationship suffered; Larry's drinking escalated, and in 1986 I asked him to move out. Two weeks later he came back home and we tried again, but the pattern continued. In 1988 he checked into Parkside Lodge of Katy, a hospital akin to the Betty Ford Center. He did well for two months after his return, then fell completely off the wagon. In 1989 I tried tough love: I told him to move out and not come back until he quit drinking.

He stayed on his own for 17 months and I don't believe he ever did stop drinking. He asked to come home in March. He had gotten a wonderful new job, after months of study, and was now a radiographer. It was a career to be proud of. By this time my mother had died and my father had remarried, so we thought perhaps if we moved completely away from the old home and old memories, we could began again and make it work. The kids missed their daddy and wanted him back home. We agreed that when he returned from his assignment in Puerto Rico, we would rebuild our marriage.

Sometime in the early hours of April 9, Larry met Alvin Eugene Broxton, and all our plans lay in that closet with his brutalized body.

May 22, 1991: The Houston Police Department caught Broxton. Until that time we all lived in terror, because Larry's wallet was missing and it contained our photos, address, and all personal information. Until he was caught I left the kids in a locked car when I came home and searched the house with a gun in my hand until I was sure it was safe to go in.

Larry was not Broxton's only victim. I believe six was the final total of people he killed. I grieve for the pain he caused those other families, whose loved ones he murdered for drug money, especially the Dockens family. Thank God Wayne survived to identify him. I know that they share my sentiment: all through these years Broxton has remained alive and well, if restricted, on Death Row. I know the justice system has its own calendar, and I know that Texas will execute him eventually, but I grow tired of waiting. Larry did not have these past years. Larry was not allowed to see his younger children grow up. He was not allowed to see his two grandchildren. He was not given another day past April 9, 1991. Why should Broxton still live?

Larry and I had reaffirmed our marriage vows on March 30, 1991, and I treasure his last words to me over the phone at my job before he left for Puerto Rico: 'I love you.' We were married only 22 years. Though we had our problems, we had a good life. Though we were cut short, we parted in love.

Sleep sweetly, darling.

In loving memory
Diane, Gene, Robin, Michelle, Morgan and Bailey

 


Times in life when tears must fall
When heart is filled with woe
Place to have this time I need
As saddened heart will flow

Today I cried so many tears
They seem to give me peace
Knowing that each drop I shed
Would give my soul release

Take away this pain I feel
Let the hurt subside
Tears that fill an ocean of
This sadness felt inside

Need this time to cast away
The sorrow that's within
With every tear the pain awash
The joy will then begin

Tears in life give comfort now
For all the hurt we feel
Cascading in a pool of life
So each of us can heal

Perhaps I cry these tears for you
Perhaps they are for me
Whatever reason for these tears
They fall from heart's bounty.



~ Francine Pucillo ~
Šused with permission
POETRY~EMOTION


News Articles

chron.com

Paper: Houston Chronicle
Date: SAT 11/15/2003

New trial has same outcome / Convicted killer gets death penalty

Jurors took about four hours Friday to conclude for the second time that a convicted killer should die, rendering the same verdict that had been overturned due to race-based testimony later found to be illegal. Eugene Broxton, 48, was found guilty and sentenced to death for the first time in 1992 after he broke into a hotel room, tied up, pistol-whipped, robbed and shot Sheila Dockens and her husband, Wayne. Broxton, who is black, won a federal appeal in 2000 after doubts were raised about racial remarks made during the penalty phase of that trial. At the first trial, a state psychologist told jurors that Broxton's race was one of many reasons to believe he posed a future threat to society. Walter Quijano, the former chief psychologist for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, pointed to statistics that show blacks and Hispanics are overrepresented among prison populations. The probability of future violence is one of the key elements prosecutors must prove to win a death sentence.  Broxton was one of six death row inmates to receive a new penalty phase trial because of testimony by Quijano. Two others have had their second trials, and in both cases a death sentence was imposed a second time. In June 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of a Hispanic man from Collin County, north of Dallas, because Quijano had made similar race-based testimony during the penalty phase of that trial. On Friday, prosecutors explicitly told jurors that Broxton's race should not play any role in their verdict.  "Race doesn't have any place in decisions made in this building. It's incredibly offensive to think it would enter into your thinking," Assistant District Attorney Bill Hawkins told the all-white jury. During the four days of testimony in the retrial of the penalty phase, prosecutors portrayed Broxton as a sociopath who has been incarcerated for all but 16 months of the past 30 years and was charged with five killings during a stint on the outside in 1991. Dockens was a 20-year-old newlywed when she died that year. "Part of it for him is the thrill and the kicks," said Assistant District Attorney Katherine Cabaniss. "Every time he comes into contact with people, he is a threat." Broxton's attorneys pointed to his prison record of good behavior and sought to assure jurors that he would be best left in prison for the rest of his life. "By and large, the prison system does a pretty good job of keeping them confined and keeping them from hurting other people," said Broxton's attorney, Thomas Moran. Diane Smith, a 55-year-old widow, sat in the courtroom gallery on Friday. Broxton was charged but never tried in the death of her husband, Larry Smith, in 1991. "I don't trust the system when they say he is going to be incarcerated forever," Smith said.


Paper: Houston Chronicle
Date: SAT 09/23/2000

Race-based testimony may result in new trial /Psychologist's remarks taken to task

A federal judge has blocked the Harris County District Attorney's Office from defending the use of race-based testimony in a 1992 capital murder case, which could mean inmate Eugene Broxton will be resentenced or retried. Texas Attorney General John Cornyn admitted state prosecutors made a constitutional error by allowing state prison psychologist Walter Quijano's testimony during the sentencing phase of Broxton's trial, as well as the trials of five other death row inmates. In the case of Broxton, who is black, Quijano testified that statistics indicated Broxton would be a continuing threat to society if he were not sentenced to die, according to a supplemental petition filed by Broxton's attorneys. In the wake of the Supreme Court's decision in another case, attorney James R. Reed challenged Broxton's sentence in a supplement to a petition challenging the verdict. The supplement states that Broxton's rights were violated when Quijano testified that statistical factors increase the probability of future dangerousness. Quijano told jurors in the Broxton case that race was one of 24 factors in determining the probability that a defendant would commit future acts of violence and be a continuing threat to society, court documents state. But Harris County Assistant District Attorney Roe Wilson disagreed that Quijano's testimony amounted to constitutional error and sought to defend the prosecution's actions in court, over Cornyn's objection. In a petition to the court, Wilson said state prosecutors face the responsibility of retrying the case if U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore orders Broxton to be resentenced. But Gilmore rejected Harris County's motion, deciding that it is the sole responsibility of the Attorney General's Office to answer Broxton's allegations. Broxton was convicted of killing Sheila Dockens on May 16, 1991. Trial evidence showed that Broxton barged into the motel room where Dockens and her husband, Waylon, were staying during a business trip to Houston. Broxton ordered the Louisiana couple to give him their wallets and jewelry. He tied their hands and feet with strips of cloth, then beat Waylon Dockens unconscious with the butt of a .44-caliber Magnum pistol. When Waylon Dockens regained consciousness, he called the motel manager for help. When police arrived they found Sheila Dockens was dead, and Waylon Dockens had a gunshot wound to the face. Senior Assistant Attorney General Edward Marshall said there is no evidence that anything was amiss in the guilt-innocence portion of the trial. He urged Gilmore to uphold Broxton's conviction, ordering a retrial on the punishment phase only. Quijano's testimony also caused state prosecutors to dropped cases against four convicted sex offenders. Quijano, who has expertise in substance abuse counseling, sex offenders and other forensic issues, was the chief psychologist for the Texas prison system in the 1980s. He also has been a consultant for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. After the initial ruling, Cornyn identified six other death penalty cases in which Quijano testified about race. Cornyn said he will not contest appeals raised over the psychologist's testimony.


HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Date: THU 10/05/1995

Broxton's sentence stands up to appeal

AUSTIN - The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday upheld 6-3 the death sentence of a Louisiana man charged with five capital killings in Houston. Eugene Alvin Broxton was sentenced to die for the 1991 robbery slaying of Sheila Dockens, 20, who was staying at a Channelview motel with her husband. The Louisiana newlyweds were pistol-whipped, bound and robbed. Waylon Dockens, the victim's husband, survived to testify against Broxton. Three of the judges, however, said they would have overturned the death sentence, in part because jurors had not been told how much time Broxton would have had to serve before being considered for parole. Broxton raised several issues in his appeal, including whether the jury should have been told that - if given a life sentence - he would have to serve a minimum of 15 years before becoming eligible for parole. Since then, the Legislature has raised to 35 years the minimum time a capital murderer must serve before being considered for parole. Judges Sam Houston Clinton, Morris Overstreet and Frank Maloney, all Democrats, said failure to inform the jury of the minimum time Broxton, then 37, would serve violated his constitutional rights to due process and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. The court has previously held that it is improper to tell jurors when or whether a defendant would be paroled. Clinton, Overstreet and Maloney, however, said jurors were entitled to know that the minimum time served was relevant in answering the question of whether Broxton would be a threat to society. Broxton also is charged in four other capital cases committed during a two-month crime spree in April and May of 1991, according to police. Broxton was on parole for the 1986 attempted capital murder of a Houston police officer at the time of the Dockens slaying. The court returned another murder case to Harris County Wednesday to correct a procedural matter. Cldye Smith, 22, was sentenced to die for the 1992 murder of taxi driver David Jacobs. Smith's defense attorneys unsuccessfully tried to block the introduction of Smith's confession into evidence. However, the trial court failed to file written findings justifying the decision on time. The appeals court sent the case back to the trial court to refile the findings. The conviction wasn't reversed.


 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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