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…1 kti\\ tft ON DEATH ROW The Slor of Dominique Cree p 4110 THOMAS CAHILL Neu , York ThitetkR turlitog Author REVIEW Canon Fodder BY TODD MOPE A Saint on Death Row: The Story of Dominique Green By Thomas Cahill Nan A. Talese 16o pages, $18.95 DGreen had the kind of childhood you wouldn’t wish on anyone and an adulthood that, while truncated, anyone would admire. Green was born and raised in Houston by drug-addicted parents. His mother, a diagnosed schizophrenic, abused Dominique and his two brothers horribly and often. A Catholic priest raped 7-year-old Dominique at school, and he fell prey to more sexual abusers as an inmate in the state juvenile detention system. Green turned to drug dealing at age 15, and by 18 he had joined a criminal gang that robbed people at gunpoint. According to Harris County prosecutors, Green and three other members of the gang robbed, shot and killed Andrew Lastrapes Jr., a Houston truck driver, in October 1994. Police apprehended Green and another of the men in a stolen car four days after the murder and found a gun in its backseat. Questionable ballistics tests would later indicate the weapon had killed Lastrapes. It was Green’s fourth arrest. Investigators found fingerprints on the murder weapon, but they belonged to none of the four men. Regardless, prosecutors fingered Green as the triggerman. In exchange for their testimony in Green’s trial, prosecutors also dropped murder charges against two other African-American men they identified as having participated in the crime. Incredibly, the fourth member of the group, a white man named Patrick Haddix, was never indicted, though he admitted in a written statement and subsequent testimony that he had participated in the robbery and shared its proceeds. Prosecutors produced no other witnesses. In theory, Texas’ notorious “law of parties” allowed the prosecutors to charge all four men with capital murder. \(The law of parties practically eliminates distinctions between murderers and accomplices, relieving prosecutors from having to prove that capital murder defendants intended to commit the crimeor even that they participated in the murder. The “Kenneth Foster Jr. Act,” which would amend the law, passed the Texas House of Representatives this session but died in the Senate Committee on Criminal Prosecutors charged only Green, though they lacked physical evidence pointing to his guilt. Their only witnesses were victims of the gang’s other stickups and Green’s plea-bargaining co-conspiratorsmen with incentive to obscure their own involvement in the crime. Green’s court-appointed attorney was an admitted heavy drinker whose only previous capital case was an infamous 1992 “sleeping lawyer” trial. Of the droopy-eyed defense for accused murderer George McFarland in that case, Judge Doug Shaverwho also presided over Green’s trialsaid, “The Constitution says everyone’s entitled to the lawyer of their choice. … The Constitution doesn’t say the lawyer has to be awake.” Bernatte Luckett Lastrapes was among those who could not believe her eyes as the case against Green unfolded. According to author Thomas Cahill, the murder victim’s widow “began to wonder if this was really a trial at all or rather some kind of bizarrely predictable ritual with a predetermined outcome.” Green admitted his part in the robbery but vehemently denied having shot Lastrapes. Nonetheless, a Harris County juryallwhite save an Asian-Americanfound Green guilty. Against all conceivable judgment, his defense team called Green’s mentally ill mother as a character witness in the trial’s sentencing phase. She recommended that the court impose the death penalty, and the court complied. Green went to Death Row on July 14, 1993, and remained there until the state of Texas took his life, ostensibly to protect you and me, on Oct. 26, 2004. Readers will find it difficult to argue with Cahill’s conclusion that “Dominique never had a fair shot; he never even had a chance. He was convicted and executed by a system that has no regard for fairness and no regard for human life.” Cahill is a classics scholar and popular historian, best known for his “Hinges of History” series, including the books How the Irish Saved Civilization and The Gifts of the Jews. He splits his time between Manhattan and Europe, and his social circle is such that he is able to call in favors from Green’s spiritual and intellectual hero, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and dedicate this book to the memory of his friend Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. He seems an unlikely biographer, much less champion, of a black former drug dealer on Texas’ Death Row, but that’s what he became after meeting Green in 2003. 26 THE TEXAS OBSERVER AUGUST 7, 2009