Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Alleged Hate Rapist of Terlingua Teen Out On Hush-Hush Bail

(images courtesy of Towleroad)

Brewster County, Texas – An alleged rapist and kidnapper of a gender non-conforming 18-year-old boy was quietly released on bail in Big Bend Country before the Christmas holidays. The Unfinished Lives Project has learned that Daniel Martinez, 46 at the time of the alleged kidnapping and rape of a Terlingua teen in December 2009, was granted release on bail by Alpine Judge and Justice of the Peace Jerry Sotello on December 20, 2010. According to the report of Clarence Russeau, an educator and community organizer in Alpine, the accused rapist was granted bail of $20,000 for each of three counts: kidnapping, aggravated assault, and arson. The victim was not notified by the court, the justice of the peace, or District Attorney Jesse Gonzales Jr. that Martinez had been released from jail, and he only found out the news in the first week of January from counselors associated with the Family Crisis Center of the Big Bend. According to most recent reports, the second accused assailant, Kristopher Buchanan, 27 at the time of the rapes, is still being held in jail pending court action, though his name appears nowhere on a docket.  As Unfinished Lives has reported, the young victim who was kidnapped from the Boat House Bar, was allegedly spirited out to a remote desert residence by Martinez and Buchanan, where his car was torched and he was repeatedly raped by the pair until he escaped three miles on foot through rugged terrain wearing no more than pajama bottoms, a torn tee-shirt, and flip-flops with no socks in freezing temperatures. Sources in Alpine say that the deteriorating health of Martinez was given as an excuse for the release. Martinez reportedly has suffered two heart attacks in jail since his arrest, and one source said that Martinez’s short life expectancy prompted the leniency of officers of the court. Martinez has been ordered to appear before the court monthly to establish that he has not absconded, but the proximity of Brewster County to the U.S.-Mexico border casts doubt on the wisdom of the decision to let an untried defendant go. The porous border around Terlingua has become an issue of national concern in recent years, and surreptitious travel back and forth across the Rio Grande in the desolate Big Bend country is a regular occurrence. Close observers of District Attorney Gonzales and the local courts have voiced concerns about Buchanan’s situation, as well. Buchanan’s name has been dropped from the January court docket. In the recent past, DA Gonzales has surprised plaintiffs and the public by making sudden plea bargain deals with defendants whose names, like Buchanan’s, had been dropped from the docket of the court. Since Buchanan faces three charges courts in two other counties, Terlingua citizens fear that he may be seconded to those jurisdictions in a sort of judicial shell game, postponing a trial in Brewster County for months and years to come. The inside game being played by court officials and law enforcement in Brewster County and the 83rd Judicial District of Texas seems to have unreasonably stalled justice for a young man who has suffered sexual assault, kidnapping, and destruction of his property, all because he was perceived to be gay. Does the safety and security of gender non-conforming youth mean anything to officers of the court in the largest county in Texas?  Does it take a hate crime murder to motivate the legal system in Deep South Texas to take sexual assault against minors seriously?  Where is justice, a right to a speedy trial, and the rule of law in Big Bend country?  It is hard for us in the Unfinished Lives Project Team to see any sufficient rationale for denying Martinez and Buchanan their day in court for so long, and for leaving a youth harmed so grievously in limbo for well over a year.

January 21, 2011 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Brewster County Texas, gay teens, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Kidnapping and sexual assault, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, rape, Terlingua, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Terlingua Hate Rapists Still Unpunished

Boathouse Bar, Terlingua, Texas where two alleged rapists kidnapped their victim (Stephen Sprinkle photo)

Brewster County, Texas – Two alleged power rapists in Far West Texas, jailed since December 2009, have yet to face pre-trial proceedings in the abduction and repeated rape of a high school senior from Terlingua.  Terlingua, near the Mexico border and Big Bend National Park, is remote–80 miles from Alpine, and 330 miles from El Paso.  On the night of December 6-7, 2009, Daniel Martinez, 46, and Kristapher Buchanan, 27, allegedly abducted an 18 year old bisexual male at a bar and game room, stole the car he was living in, and traveled into the far desert to a shack in the Terlingua Ranch section of Brewster County where they brutally beat, demeaned and sexually assaulted their victim as they shouted anti-gay epithets.  The assailants torched the victim’s car, burning up all his worldly possessions.  As the young man tried to retrieve precious items, he was severely burned.  After a second round of brutal rape, the attackers sunk into a drunken stupor, allowing the victim to escape into the desert at about 2 AM.  He walked over three miles in the pitch dark through rough desert terrain wearing flip flops, pajama bottoms, and a tattered tee shirt in freezing temperature, finally making it to Highway 118 where a Sheriff’s Deputy found him and transported him to medical attention in Alpine.  The identity of the victim is protected under Texas law since he was the victim of a sexual assault, and the case against his alleged assailants is still in process.  Power-rape has been employed since time immemorial to subdue and shame victims.  Residents of the area believe the assailants have a pattern of such activity involving young victims, and reports suggest the pair have used alcohol and intimidation to harm at least one 15-year-old boy in the region, as well.  Although the case has the classic marks of an anti-gay hate crime, law enforcement has not filed charges under the Texas hate crimes law, named for James Byrd, Jr. as is the federal law now in force.  Harry Knox, Director of the Religion and Faith Program of the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C., and Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, professor at Brite Divinity School and Director of the Unfinished Lives Project, traveled to Brewster County to carry out a “ministry of presence” to officials involved in the case.  Knox and Sprinkle arrived in Brewster County on July 7 and spent three days interviewing citizens and calling on authorities in order to communicate the interest of Texas and the nation in the hate crime, and in the welfare of the young victim.  Clarence Russeau, Community Education and Outreach Specialist with the Family Crisis Center of the Big Bend, Inc. of Alpine and Terlingua, hosted Knox and Sprinkle, arranged appointments in the region, and served as guide throughout the visit.  The trio visited the Alpine office of Texas State Representative Pete Gallego, 20 year veteran of the Texas Legislature, Jesse Gonzales, District Attorney in the case at his Fort Stockton office, President Ricardo Maestas of Sul Ross State University in Alpine, attorney for the victim, Jennie Fannin at her Alpine office, and the Terlingua branch of the Family Crisis Center where they met with Director Lovika De Koninck.  At each stop, Knox, Sprinkle and Russeau emphasized the need for the community to hold local school, law enforcement, and higher education officials to a high standard of accountability in the hate crime case.  Citizens of Terlingua told the visitors that the victim was well-known to them, and he has their full support as he recovers from his trauma. Over 200 residents of Terlingua protested the low bail assigned to the young victim’s alleged assailants, and sent a petition to the district attorney demanding the bail be raised.  Ms. De Koninck said that the young man would have a warm welcome when he returns to Terlingua. Citizens told the trio that the victim had been shunned by his family because of his sexual orientation, and though he had only his car to live in, he continued to support himself with a job at a local café, and faithfully attended school.  Initially, however, the superintendent of schools in Terlingua, Kathy Killingsworth, allegedly ordered the victim to leave school before he could graduate because she did not want his orientation or the crime perpetrated against him to be discussed in the schools she oversaw.  Due to pressure from the community, the superintendent, who is also a Brewster County Commissioner, apparently reconsidered her position, and will now allow the victim to complete requirements for his diploma, according to local reports.  No trial date has yet been set in the case, though the district attorney suggests that it will be before the end of the year.  Both the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department have been notified about the crime.  Knox and Sprinkle have pledged to monitor the situation from Dallas and Washington, and communicate with officials regularly to ensure care for the young hate crime victim and a speedy and just trial for the defendants in the case.

July 14, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Beatings and battery, Bisexual persons, Brewster County Texas, Bullying in schools, FBI, gay men, gay teens, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, Heterosexism and homophobia, Human Rights Campaign, Kidnapping and sexual assault, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Protests and Demonstrations, rape, Social Justice Advocacy, Terlingua, Texas, U.S. Justice Department | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments


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