2012 Letter to Friends

                                                                                                           January 5th, 2012
Dear Friends,

        It has been ten years since we last saw some of you. It's not because we didn't want to keep in touch, but because over ten years ago we lost someone very precious to us. No words in any language could describe the grief that filled our hearts when our Terence died. We are indebted for all the help and support we've received from you all, and we're at a loss of words to describe our gratitude. But we need your help once again.

        In the next few months, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles will begin reviewing Brandon Threet's parole request. We need you to write to the Board, protesting the release of the man who killed Terence in cold blood on October 7th, 2001.  What follows is painful to read, but we felt it must be written. We hope you'll understand.

        At 2:00 AM that day, we received a call from Seton Northwest Hospital ER, telling us we needed to come immediately. We rushed over. The hospital administrator brought us into her office and told us that Terence was dead before even reaching them. The ER doctor revived Terence, but he was now comatose. We ran to his bedside, calling to him, “Terence! Mommy and Dada are here, don't worry, everything will be okay.” Lying there, still, tears gushed from his closed eyes, streaming down his cheeks.

        The plastic cords and wires, like worms, wound in and out of his arms, body, nose and throat; our nightmare had begun. For seven days his body shut down, one system at a time. When he was cold, we covered him with a heating blanket, and when his temperature ran too high, an ice pad cooled him. Each day, the doctors told us Terence would survive only for the next six to twelve hours. He found the courage to hold on longer. We never believed Terence would die. How could he? He shined too fiercely.

        Three days before, on October 4th, we celebrated his eighteenth birthday. The summer before that he had begun attending UT to fulfill his dream of being a social worker. In his college entrance essay, he wrote, “My goal is to reach an old age and be able to look back on my life and smile, knowing that others have benefited from me being alive and that I have impacted their lives in a positive way.” Terence made so many of us smile and laugh. His life was short but sweet. It should have been longer. He should be with us now.

        On the afternoon of October 12th,  we saw the raw electric force of the defibrillator racking him, trying to jumpstart his young heart back to life. The doctors coupled it with an injection, and blood seeped from Terence's arm. He was dying before our eyes. And we were falling apart before his. Later that evening, a nurse told us harsher methods would be used if his heart stopped again.

        As our world fell into disarray, we blindly looked for a way to continue. In a letter Terence wrote to his Mom in 2001 he said, “Your passion for life has taught me never to give up. I will always love no matter where I am or how old I have gotten.” Slowly, we started to understand that letting him go didn't mean giving up. We finally whispered to him, “Terence, if your body can't take this pain, you may leave this world. We are sad, but please don't worry. We will see each other again.”

        On that cloudy, rainy day Terence left this life on October 13th, 2001 at 9:30 AM. We held his hand, touched his face, kissed his forehead, and sang his favorite songs. His departure was felt in that ICU room. The clouds parted and sun rays reached down, through the hospital window, offering Terence a hand to help him up. Quietly, we whispered good bye.

        We knew we could find the courage to arrange Terence's funeral. We wanted whoever loved Terence to have an opportunity to say farewell to him. What we didn't know was how much more courage we would need to find out how our Terence died.

        On October 6th, 2001 at around 10:30 PM , Terence messaged his younger brother on AOL  saying he was heading home. At 12:48 AM, his Mom called him at his dorm and left a message asking him why he's not home yet. After Terence's death, we learned that Terence's college friend had asked him for a ride to Eric Stahl's house party, since it was along Terence's route home. Terence, despite not being friends with many of the people attending, did what any social eighteen year old would do: he went in.

        The week-long trial started July 16th, 2002, and we finally knew the facts of Terence's death and faced the man who murdered him.
        Williamson County's District Attorney, John Bradley, repeatedly said in court, “It was not a fight. It was not an accident. It was an ambush.” He wanted the jury to understand, as much as Threet and his friends tried to hide it, that this was no fight; this was an ambush. According to witnesses, Threet hounded Terence throughout the night. He was planning his attack. Three times he persistently requested that Terence trade punches to the chest, one at a time, with him. Three times Terence told him, “I don't want to do that.”

        Finally, in the backyard, Terence relented so Threet would leave him alone. The attack was videotaped and replayed in court as evidence.  In the video, Terence faced Threet, smiling. Terence showed Threet where he would hit him and said, “Dude, don't break my ribs or anything.” Terence then punched Threet in the chest as they had agreed to do. In an instant, Threet recoiled, lunged forward and landed a punch to Terence's face, knocked him to the ground, and continued punching him. Another person jumped on Threet to pull him off Terence but Threet broke away. He took three steps and kicked Terence in the side of the head with steel toed boots while Terence was on the ground.

        The sound of that heavy kick will never be forgotten. It will follow us to our own graves.

        Brandon Threet was indicted of first-degree murder but convicted of manslaughter with a deadly weapon. He was sentenced on July 22nd, 2002 to twenty years in prison and fined $10,000. He is required to serve half his sentence before being eligible for parole. He will be reviewed for parole beginning January 2012 and could be out of prison by July 14th, 2012 if his parole request is granted by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

        Threet has expressed no remorse and no regret. Nearly 10 years ago, we faced Threet in court. The trial began with his plea of innocence to the murder of Terence and ended with Threet being found guilty of manslaughter.  Since that time, he has sought to appeal his lesser conviction of manslaughter on the grounds that evidence was factually insufficient, and that his well known and well connected defense attorney, Roy Minton, was incompetent.  He had a local tabloid newspaper write two biased articles, emphasizing his beliefs of his innocence, that Terence’s death was an accident caused by an undisclosed medical condition, glossing over the true facts of the case presented at trial. The article ended with what Threet said: “I was just a kid like anybody else.”

        Threet has exhausted his rights to appeal having petitioned the 3rd District Court of Appeals in 2003, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 2009, and finally to the US Supreme Court in 2010. In each case, the appeal was denied and the lower court’s decision was affirmed. Threet is guilty of manslaughter and should serve his sentence of 20 years.

        Threet and his family have sought pardon along every avenue except the right one. He has spent nearly ten years in prison professing his innocence, insisting a grave injustice was done to him.

        Now, Threet is eligible for parole. Can Justice ever be served if he is freed, still thinking that he has done nothing wrong? Can our community ever feel safe with Threet walking about still full of pent-up rage, made worse by his time in prison? No! Threet is a danger to us all. He must remain in prison until he has served his time and until he has finally accepted responsibility for his violent crime.

        We need your help. Ten years in prison isn't enough. The likelihood he serves his full sentence is slim but that's where you come in. We need all your support to keep Threet in prison for as long as possible.

        We need letters of protest sent to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles requesting Threet serve his full 20 year sentence.

        We need you to request that he not be made eligible for review for as long as the law allows. We fear if the message is not sent, it is only a matter of time before Threet targets another bright, young man as a vent for his rage.

        Every letter is a voice the Parole Board listens to and considers. The Parole Board needs to hear from you so they understand our community stands behind justice. Parole Protest letters will be kept in strict confidentiality. Brandon Threet and his attorneys are NOT allowed to read the letters.

        Attached is a package of information and guidelines for your reference. Please feel free to contact us personally by email or phone if you have any questions or concerns. We would appreciate it if your letter is submitted by the end of January 2012; however, a letter submitted at any time is still a strong voice to add to our own. Also, please forward our letter to other friends as you see fit, and accept our thanks for spreading further awareness of our plea.

        We know this has not been an easy letter to read. We thank you for being with us in this time of need.


Chung-Chung Chiu McArdle            

James M.  McArdle 

Brendan J. McArdle                         

Parole Protest

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