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Two Lives, Two Deaths BY TERRY FITZPATRICK , Huntsville Everyone knew the case of Johnny Frank Garrett was unique, and that his execution would make news. That’s why a crowd gathered outside the prison at Huntsvjlle on February 11. Demonstrators from Amnesty International stood with candles, protesting, the execution of a man who was only 17 years old at the time his crime. Students from nearby Sam Houston State University stood with bullhorns and chanted “kill the freak” for television carnera.crews who had come from across the state. It was an ugly scene in the early morning hours of Garrett’s death. But that’s not what set this case apart. What made this execution different was that Garrett’s victim was a Roman Catholic nun, and her family .the Church. itself ,did not. want Garrett to die. EvenPope John Paul II was involved in.requests to commute ,Garrett’s death sentence to life in prison. The survivors of Garrett’s crime forgave him. The State of,did not. The story involves the quirkiness of Texas law. Several states allow juries to sentence killers to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Texas does not. This left jurors and authorities with no choice. If Garrett’s life were spared, there would always be the risk that a “nun killer” might be paroled toonce again prowl the streets. Garrett’s crimewas shocking. In the early hours of 1981 he broke into the St. Francis convent on the outskirts of.Amarillo, picked up a, butter knife and went up to the second floor, where he quietly entered the room of .76-yearold Sister Tadea Benz. Garrett raped, stabbed, and strangled the elderly nun. It was an attack of such unbridled rage that the knife blade was bent. Garrett left Sister Tadea’s body sprawled on the floor. He would later confess to police that Sister Tadea Benz had recited, the Lord’s Prayer while being raped. “As far as an upset public, we have nothing in our history, and I doubt if any other city in this state does, to compare to the rape and murder of a 76-year-old virgin nun in-a convent,” said Potter County Sheriff Jimmy .Don Boydston. “It was certainly traumatic,” said 47th District Attorney Danny Hill. “You can’t think of any place much safer than a convent. The only place that’s safer is heaven itself.” Garrett grew up across the street from the St. Francis Convent. Officials at the nearby Catholic school often found Garrett sleeping under the bleachers in the football stadium. He would make obscene gestures when told to leave. “We had some problems with Johnny,” said Amarillo Bishop Terry FitzPatrick is a documentary producer for KERA-TV in Dallas, and a former Amarillo reporter who has covered the Garrett case since 1984. Sister Tadea Benz Leroy Matthiesen. “We knew him as a person who might get into trouble.” Police also knew Garrett and regarded him as a neighborhood bully. “He would pick up small animals, particularly small dogs, and throw them down to try to break their backs,” Hill said. But what no one knew at the time was the abuse that Garrett allegedly endured inside his home. Psychiatrists who examined Garrett on death row, after his conviction, believe that the way Garrett AMARILLO GLOBE-NEWS, HENRY BARGAS was reared led to his crime. “He had been hideously tortured as a child,” said Dr. Dorthy Lewis, a New York University psychiatrist who examined Garrett. “In his early teens, he was forced into male prostitution and then was forced to participate in pornographic films which included being compelled to perform fellatio on a large dog and to be sodomized by that animal, Lewis said. “When you treat a child that way torture him, burn him, repeatedly sodomize him, terrorize him this 8 FEBRUARY 28, 1992