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Jon Buice, convicted in Houston gay-bashing murder, to be paroled 25 years early

Jon Buice, who confessed to joining in the hate-crime murder of Paul Broussard in Houston in 1991, will be paroled in October after serving less than half of his 45 year sentence.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles agreed last Friday to grant his early release,KHOU reported, sparking a renewed outcry over what the TV station described as “Houston’s most infamous gay-bashing hate crime.”

Jon Buice
Jon Buice

Jon Buice

Buice was one of a group known as the “Woodlands Ten,” tied to the brutal stabbing near a gay bar in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood. The blog Queertyrecalled a statement from one of the group members, that they had been out “to beat up some queers.”

Buice received the stiffest sentence handed down in the murder trial, and is the last of the group left behind bars. At the time, the rest of the group’s sentences drew criticism for being too light.

Noel Freeman, president of the Houston Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Political Caucus told the Houston Chronicle Broussard’s murder has had a lasting impact in Houston:

The attack, he said, unified the gay and lesbian community and energized the campaign to include gay-directed violence in hate-crime legislation. It also fueled lingering concerns over security.

“I still don’t feel comfortable holding my husband’s hand walking down the street,” Freeman said.

Buice had been denied parole multiple times since 2003. Freeman is leading an effort to get the most recent ruling overturned, KHOU reported:

“We’re going to encourage all members of the community to write the parole board, write their representatives, write their state senators,” Freeman said. “We will mobilize the community. The community mobilized when Paul was murdered back in 1991.”

Equality Texas has also taken up that cause, according to the Dallas Voice.

But one prominent gay activist in Houston has taken Buice’s side: Ray Hill, the KPFT community radio cofounder who helped push for further investigation into Broussard’s murder. In 1999, Buice apologized to the gay community in an open letter; Hill told the Chronicle he believes Buice has been rehabilitated.

“This was not a hate crime,” Hill said. “We had a bunch of kids drunk and stoned and disappointed they couldn’t get into a gay bar. They drove around looking for trouble. It had more to do with immaturity. … There never was any intent to hurt or kill gay people.”

Buice appears in a 2002 Mother Jones story about Hill’s prison radio show.

Last year the Houston Press took an in-depth look at Buice’s time in prison, and the evidence that Buice “may not be [a] model prisoner,” allegations of sex tapes and an illicit relationship with a prison chaplain — which Broussard’s mother had hoped would keep Buice locked up for years to come.

According to the Chronicle, Buice’s good behavior and enrollment in college classes won him points toward his early release.

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