In the weeks after 9/11, Stroman raided Dallas-area gas stations in search of Muslims to kill. He shot and killed Hindu immigrant Vasudev Patel, thinking he was Muslim, and Waqar Hasan, a father of four from Pakistan, while they were still behind their convenience store counters.
Rais Bhuyian, then 26 years old, was luckier. Stroman asked him where he was from, but before Bhuyian could answer, he shot him the face with a shotgun. Bhuyian played dead, recovered, and is now blind in one eye.
Surprisingly, Bhuyian has since started a wide-ranging campaign to get his attacker off Death Row, arguing that his death would not solve anything.
"I forgave Mark Stroman many years ago," he writes on his blog. "I believe he was ignorant, and not capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, otherwise he wouldn't have done what he did." Bhuyian says that Stroman should serve life without parole instead. Bhuyian is also suing the state, claiming the Texas Department of Criminal Justice prevented him from contacting Stroman. (A department spokeswoman tells The Lookout she can't comment on pending litigation.)
But Bhuyian's advocacy efforts have been rejected. Stroman is scheduled to be put to death Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Huntsville.
"It's sad, my split second of hate and anger after 9/11 has caused many people lifetimes of pain and I regret that to this day," Stroman--who had been jailed twice for other crimes before the murders--told CBSNews.
"At that time here in America everybody was saying 'let's get them'--we didn't know who to get, we were just stereotyping. I stereotyped all Muslims as terrorists and that was wrong," he told the BBC. He said he thinks Bhuyian is a "pretty cool dude" for forgiving him.
Journalist Liliana Segura rounds up other cases in which victims or their family members have argued against the death penalty. The father of Army veteran Tim Adams pleaded for him to be spared the death penalty for killing his young child while planning his own suicide. "Our family lost one child. We don't deserve to lose another. After my grandson's death, we lived through pain worse than anyone could imagine. Nothing good will come from executing my son Tim and causing us more anguish," he said. In another case, the son of a man who was killed during a robbery argued that his father's killer should be spared the death penalty because it "isn't going to do anything that's going to bring back our father."
Death penalty supporters argue that the punishment gives closure to families and serves as a crime deterrent (a claim that's a matter of dispute).
- Death Row
- death penalty
- white supremacist