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The Progressive 100 YEARS i 909.2,00 Texas Observer Readers, You’re Hereby Invited to The Progressive’s 100th Anniversary Conference and Bash in Madison, Wisconsin, May 1-2 Join Robert Redford, Howard Zinn, Amy Goodman, Cindy Sheehan, Jim Hightower, Jesse Jackson, Barbara Ehrenreich, Katha Pollitt, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Joan Claybrook, Sen. Russ Feingold, and former Sen. George McGovern for a once-in-a-century event! To register go to or send $295 to The Progressive, 409 E. Main St. Madison, WI 53703 a case of cans down there because this is a work area. The case of cans was sitting on this drum.” When told in a follow-up interview that the spray cans likely were on top the drum, DeHaan modifies his position further. He still believes it was arson but says the spray cans can’t be ruled out. “An expert relies on the information that is given to him before trial and that’s the information I had…. I saw no involvement of cans rocketing around the room. [But] is it theoretically possible? Sure.” THE AFTERMATH Sue Severns still lives in the Sherman house that Curtis designed for them. They moved in a year before Curtis went to prison. As long as Sue remains, she says, Curtis is never completely gone. She’s reminded of him everywhere she looksat all the little engineering touches he designed, at the wooden steps he insisted on, at the stained-glass windows he helped her construct. She lives in the modern, two-story house with two of her children. \(One of her dad,” Sue says. “I just think of all the things he did with the kids. And how badly we need him here.” She remembers Curtis’ last night at homethe night before the jury’s verdict in December 2006. He came into their room and told Sue he’d just put their 2-yearold boy to bed. “He said, ‘That might be the last time I hug my son. I knew right then, if something bad happened with the jury that …” She trails off and begins to cry. After a minute, she says, “You have to know I don’t talk about this. I don’t tell people I work with. Everyone thinks he’s traveling.” Sue and Curtis, she says, were “best friends.” They were introduced by a mutual friend in 2002 and clicked right away. She’s the artistic type, the dreamer. He’s the planner, the implementer, the logical thinker who has to map out everything. Before their first date, Curtis asked Sue if she wanted an all-day date or a two-hour date. He had detailed scenarios for both. \(He has also given her, from prison, a list of 78 Federal prisons are stricter than state jails. No conjugal visits are allowed. Sue and the kids drive to Beaumont at least twice a month for visits of four to five hours. She is permitted to kiss Curtis twice, hello and goodbye. Sue tries to remain hopeful that her husband will be exonerated, but it’s hard. Recently the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied Severns’ request for a new trial because the ATF video hadn’t been disclosed to his attorneys. Judge Priscilla Owen wrote that the prosecution erred, but that the video wouldn’t have affected the ed a 10-year reduction in Severns’ sentence because prosecutors had been overeager with multiple charges for the same crime. The U.S. attorneys piled 17 counts on Severns for the same fire, including charges of arson, mail fraud, wire fraud, and using arson to commit wire fraud \(essentially, every communication Curtis had A federal district judge will decide just how many, if any, years will come off Severns’ sentence. Even if the full 10 years are removed, that would still leave him with 15 more in prison. Severns’ lawyer plans to continue appealing his conviction. Meanwhile, Sue says she has thought about selling the house. It sits several miles outside of town. She has no family nearby, few friends, and no support system. “It’s lonely being out here all by ourselves,” she says. Still, she wants the house to be there when Curtis leaves prison. She wants them to live together again, a family, in the house they built. For now, she’s holding on to it. 16 THE TEXAS OBSERVER APRIL 3, 2009