Murder of Paul Broussard

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Paul Broussard (1964–1991), a 27-year-old Houston-area banker and Texas A&M alumnus, was beaten and stabbed to death in a gay-bashing outside a Houston nightclub on July 4, 1991, by ten teenaged boys. The youths had driven from the northern Houston suburb of The Woodlands to the heavily gay area of Montrose solely to "beat up some queers", in the words of one of the convicted teens.[1]

The attack[edit]

Paul Broussard was walking across a parking lot just after 2:00 a.m.,[2] on July 4, 1991, in Houston's Montrose neighborhood with his friends Cary Anderson and Richard Delaunay when the trio was attacked by 10 young men from The Woodlands area: Jaime Aguirre, Javier Aguirre, Derrick Attard, Jon Buice, Chance Paul Dillon, Rafael Grable Gonzalez, Gayland Randle, Leandro Ramirez, Brian Spake, and Jeffrey Valentine.

All but three of the attackers were under 17, and the eldest of them—Brian Spake—was 22. All except Chase Dillon attended McCullough High School in The Woodlands. The "Woodlands Ten" as they became known, had spent the two days prior to the attack binging on alcohol. Hours before the attack, they piled into two cars and cruised Montrose harassing men they presumed to be gay. They identified their targets by asking directions to Heaven, a popular area gay bar and threw rocks at men who answered with directions.[3]

Broussard and friends were just blocks away from home when the attackers asked them for directions to Heaven. Upon receiving them, the 10 attackers exited their vehicles and attacked the three gay men with fists, steel-toed boots, bear claws, nail-studded two-by-fours, and a knife wielded by Jon Buice. Anderson and Delaunay escaped down a busy street, while Broussard headed down a dead end street where he was surrounded by the 10 attackers.[2]

Delaunay said the ten young men were cheering and yelling as they attacked Broussard. Broussard suffered abrasions, puncture wounds, a broken rib, bruised testicles, and three stab wounds. As he lay on the ground, almost unconscious, two of his attackers rifled through his pockets and took a comb as a souvenir. The ten young men then drove off up I-45 towards The Woodlands, still cheering and yelling.[3]

Broussard was treated by EMS at the scene, and then airlifted to St. Joseph's Hospital, where he died eight-and-a-half hours later. His mother, Nancy Rodriguez, flew into Houston from Atlanta, Georgia, and met with Houston police as well as with Anderson and Delaunay.

Protests and arrests[edit]

Houston newspapers did not initially report Broussard's murder as a hate crime. As a result, Queer Nation Houston organized large public protests, some of which took place in front of the mayor's house, with Nancy Rodruiguez participating. The resulting media attention led to one of the assailants' girlfriends calling the police. All ten were soon arrested.[3]

Derrick Attard went to New York after the attack, and was arrested there. Jon Buice is reported to have turned himself in after being encouraged to do so by his father.[4]

Sentencing[edit]

All ten of Broussard's assailants were eventually convicted. Activist Ray Hill lobbied the prosecutor and District attorney for "meaningful sentences" for The Woodlands 10.[4]

Derrick Attard received probation for agreeing to identify the other nine. Four more also received probation, and Nancy Rodriguez—aided by the Houston Crime Victim's Office—worked with the D.A. to set the terms. The court also ordered them to pay for Anderson's hospital bill and Broussard's funeral. Derrick Attard and Gayland Randle violated the terms of their probations and were sent to prison.

Jon Buice confessed to inflicting the stab wound that the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office said caused Broussard's death, and received a 45-year sentence. Paul Dillon received a 20-year sentence for attempted murder and aggravated attempted murder.

The three remaining assailants received sentences of 15-years-and-one-day, for their admitted participation in the beatings. Their sentences were criticized by Queer Nation and Nancy Rodriguez as being too light.

Probation and release[edit]

Paul Dillon was the first of the attackers to be released, in March 2000, after serving just six years. He owed his freedom to a mandatory release law that was repealed in 1996.[5]

Derrick Attard, Rafael Gonzalez, Gayland Randle, Brian Spake, and Jeffrey Valentine also received probation and were released.

Brothers Jaime and Javier Aguirre were set to be released in January 2007, after Jaime was denied parole in 2003, and were expected to face deportation to Mexico upon release.

Leandro Ramirez was set to be released on parole in March 2007.

Jon Buice, who received longest sentence and is the last of The Woodlands 10 remaining in prison, was scheduled for a parole hearing in 2009, after having been denied parole in October 2003, October 2005, and October 2007. On July 5, 2011 the Houston Chronicle reported Buice will be released from prison on parole around October 2011.

Nancy Rodriguez currently lives near Macon, Georgia. She has attended more than 20 parole hearings in her efforts to keep her son's assailants in prison.

Jon Buice[edit]

In April 1999, Buice wrote an open letter to the gay community apologizing and seeking to make amends for his role in Paul Broussard's murder, which was addressed to the radio station KPFT and printed in the Houston Voice.[6] Buice says he was moved to write the letter after hearing about the murder of Matthew Shepard.[2]

In a subsequent interview with a researcher, Buice said that he was not homophobic and had close friends and relatives who were gay. Buice also said that the attack had less to do with Broussard's sexual orientation than with thrill-seeking, male-bonding, peer pressure, and the influence of drugs and alcohol. Almost all of The Woodlands 10 were intoxicated that night. Some, including Jon Buice, had also used marijuana and taken LSD.[3] Buice claimed to have "blacked out" on the night of the attack, and only remembers riding home with Broussard's blood on his clothes.[2]

According to prison officials, Buice has a spotless prison record. He has earned associate's degrees in business and accounting and a bachelor's degree in psychology.[7]

Buice was denied his parole requests in 2007 and 2009. He was scheduled to be released on parole around October 2011,[8] but after protests from the victim's mother as well as other gay activists, the Parole Board reversed its decision and denied Jon Buice parole.[9] Buice's next parole review is set for August 2012.[10]

Buice's appeal has been supported by gay activist and radio host Ray Hill. Hill, who is also an ex-convict and host of "The Prison Show" on KPFT, has corresponded with several of The Woodlands 10, supports Buice's parole, and has said he hopes Buice will take over as host of The Prison Show upon his release.[11]

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