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Victim forgives death row inmate


The following is from the July 18, 2011, edition of NBC 5 News. Rick Halperin, director of SMU's Human Rights Program and member of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA, was interviewed for this story.

Stroman to be executed Wednesday

A federal court judge in Austin ruled Wednesday afternoon that Mark Stroman's execution would not be stayed, despite a request by Rais Bhuiyan, one of Stroman's victims. Bhulyan's lawsuit had contended that the state has ignored his rights as a victim and his Islamic faith required him to seek mercy and forgiveness for his attacker.

Mark Stroman

U.S. Distict Judge Lee Yeakel noted that “the irreparable injury asserted by Bhuiyan — his claim of violation of the Crime Victims’ Rights statute being rendered moot — is outweighed by the damage to the operation of the criminal justice system as a whole that would result from this court’s granting the requested stay.”

Stroman is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Huntsville. Attorneys representing Bhuiyan are filing an emergency appeal to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

One of Bhuiyan’s most ardent supporters, human rights activist Rick Halperin of SMU, issued this statement:

“I am not surprised but I am extremely disappointed in the callousness that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Gov. Perry have taken toward these specific pleas for mercy and compassion and life from both the survivor and the victims’ family members.  It is now at long last painfully clear that there is no such thing in Texas as clemency for condemned inmates. It is equally painful to realize that victims of violent crimes who speak on behalf of mercy and compassion are to be ignored or marginalized by the stalling of top appointed and elected officials.”

Halperin is not optimistic about a stay of execution from the Fifth Circuit. "My gut reaction is that Mark Stroman will be put to death," he said. "I'm just prepared for the worst."

Halperin, director of SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, is the former elected chair of Amnesty International USA and a current board member of the human rights organization.

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July 20, 2011

By Kimberly King
NBC 5 News

A shooting victim says he wants the governor to spare the life of a man sentenced to die this week for a separate shooting in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Mark Stroman faces lethal injection Wednesday for a slaying during a shooting spree. At the time, he said he was seeking revenge on people of Middle Eastern descent. . .

He was convicted of killing Vasudev Patel at a convenience store in Mesquite in October 2001.

Patel, a naturalized U.S. citizen from India, was identified as one of three people shot by Stroman -- two of them fatally.

Rais Bhuiyan identified Stroman in court as the man who shot him in the eye one week after Waqar Hasan was shot and killed at another convenience store. . .

Hasan, a Pakistani immigrant, was killed four days after Sept. 11 at a Dallas convenience store. Stroman was charged but not tried in Hasan's slaying. . .

Bhuiyan and Hasan's family, with the help of Southern Methodist University professor Rick Halperin, are leading the charge to convince Gov. Rick Perry to spare Stroman's life.

Halperin, a human rights expert, said Stroman is remorseful. Stroman has developed personal relationships of trust with Bhuiyan as well as Hassan's family, he said.

"He believes he is not going to survive past this Wednesday," Halperin said. "He knows he is not that bigot, that hatemonger, the terrible person that did these terrible crimes. Like anybody else, he doesn't want to die. He thinks he will, but he's at peace with himself."

Read the full story or watch the video report. video icon

Related Links:

KRLD radio: (Interview with Rick Halperin) audio icon

The London Daily Mail: Victim blinded in a post-9/11 hate crime now fights for his attacker's life

Der Spiegel: Texas Case Puts Capital Punishment Center Stage

MSNBC: A victim of 9/11 hate crime now fights for his attacker's life

The 33 News: Juror who sent "Arab Slayer" to Texas death row, joins effort to spare his life video icon


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