Legal, News and Media

Murderer serves death sentence despite victim’s plea

Thomas Allison | Daily Texan Staff

A man convicted of killing two people in Dallas in 2001 died by lethal injection Wednesday evening, despite pleas to stay the execution from a man who survived an attack by the murderer.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel upheld the execution of convicted killer Mark Stroman on Wednesday afternoon. Yeakel said in a court order that he lacks jurisdiction to interfere with executions and the criminal justice system would be corrupted if the court granted Stroman clemency.

Rais Bhuiyan, the only survivor of Stroman’s post-9/11 shooting spree, announced a lawsuit last week against state officials claiming he was denied the right to mediation with his attacker. Bhuiyan, who was shot in the eye by Stroman while working at a Dallas gas station, said he didn’t learn he had the right to meet with his attacker until May.

Stroman, a former methamphetamine addict and white supremacist, claimed the alleged death of his half-sister in the 9/11 attacks led him to shoot three men he thought were Muslims. He killed two of them and received a death sentence for murdering Vasudev Patel, an Indian immigrant who was working at a Mesquite, Texas, gas station.

Yeakel heard from representatives of the state attorney general‘s office and Khurrum Wahid, an attorney representing Bhuiyan, at the U.S. District Court in Austin before making a decision.

“These men have been tied together for 10 years but kept apart by written law,” Wahid said. “Moving the execution date a few months isn’t really going to harm the state of Texas. It’s a stroke of a pen.”

Assistant Attorney General Cynthia Burton said in court that Bhuiyan did not have proper cause to ask courts to redraw the original order for execution and classified him as a third-party unrelated to Stroman’s murder trial. They also said the case should never have been moved from a state court, and the federal court did not have jurisdiction in cases involving execution. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied a further appeal, according to The Texas Tribune.

Because the case involves an active lawsuit and pending litigation, staff in the Office of the Attorney General declined to comment.

Wahid claimed in court that Bhuiyan was not informed of his right to communicate with Stroman until May, which violates his freedom of expression. Wahid said the case is not an attempt to reverse original rulings but to address victims’ rights. He said because Bhuiyan’s decision to request mediation was based on his Muslim belief, the state is also violating his constitutionally protected freedom of religion.

Bhuiyan told The Daily Texan his religion has been his primary strength in the years following the attack and the reason behind his pleas to grant Stroman clemency. He said family members of Stroman’s other victims also feel the convicted killer deserves amnesty.

“There is a reference in the Quran that says a person who believes in tolerance and forgiveness is closer to God,” said Nadeem Akhtar whose brother-in-law, Waqar Hasan, was Stroman’s other victim. “We don’t believe in revenge.”

Bhuiyan said despite the outcome, he plans to continue to educate the public on the consequences of hate crimes. Bhuiyan said he wanted to speak to Stroman “from his heart” and felt a meeting with his shooter would be the only way to recover from the attack.

“How can I find closure if Mark is gone?” Bhuiyan said. “He will be gone from this world forever. That will put me into another trauma and open another chain of mental agony.”

Printed on 07/21/2011 as: Man executed despite plea for clemency on his behalf