Interview with Tina Duroy
Tina Duroy is the sister of James Blake Colburn, who was executed on March 26, 2003 for the 1994 murder of Peggy Murphy. In the beginning of Video 1, Duroy discusses her childhood, her early family life, and growing up with James; she then narrates the events that she believes contributed to the triggering of her brother's schizophrenia and describes perceived changes in his personality and his experiences as his condition worsened. Duroy then discusses the capital murder trial and her family's responses to James' conviction and sentence.
FIELD: All right. So just to start, it is—are you ready? [laughs]. It’s March 26, 2019. I’m here in Conroe, Texas with Tina Duroy. My name is Jane Field and Matt Gossage is behind the camera, and also in the room is Tina’s friend, Kay. And so we’re here doing a follow-up oral history interview. TAVP initially interviewed Tina in I believe 2008.
DUROY: It’s been ten years, yes ma’am. It’s actually my brother’s death anniversary. You know that, too, yeah.
FIELD: So Tina, I wonder if we could just start slowly. I know you didn’t grow up in Conroe but you’ve been here for a long time since you’re—
FIELD: Since you were eleven. So I wondered whether you just want to tell me a little bit about your childhood and your family and who you grew up here with and—
DUROY: Well prior to moving here to Conroe, when I was eleven, my mother, we lived in the eastern Greenspoint area with my grandparents. My mother had previously been married three times. She had us three kids; we all had different dads. So it was a very dysfunctional, not stability. My mother tried the best she could as a single mother doing the best she could. And then so my mother got married in the early seventies to my step-father and we moved to Conroe and I’ve been in Conroe for the last forty-one years. I meant forty-four years, sorry.
FIELD: What was your mother’s name?
DUROY: Delma Fitzsimmons.
FIELD: So did you say you had three brothers?
DUROY: Mmm hmm.
FIELD: And what were their names?
DUROY: James, who we’re talking about today. I have a brother that’s fifteen months younger than myself that is an intravenous drug abuser and has been for thirty years and is fixing to go to a fourth federal or felony, I’m not for sure, stint in prison and I’ll probably lose another brother in prison. I’m sorry, then my baby brother is twelve years younger than me, lives in California, works for the navy.
FIELD: All right. So what was—tell me a memory from your childhood. What was—
DUROY: Regarding my brother?
FIELD: No, just you. What did you like to do when you were growing up? How would you spend your time?
DUROY: Oh, with family. After my mother married my step-father, we—he was a great man. He was the only father that I ever knew. And we did, you know, family reunions and stuff. Back in the day when I was a kid, we still had big family reunions, big Easter stuff. It was different then than today.
DUROY: But I enjoyed my friends’ slumber parties, skating, little old girl stuff.
FIELD: Yeah, what was it like, what was the move like from—how far was—
DUROY: Houston, Greenspoint. Forty, forty-five minutes at the most. It was great because we were living with my grandparents and it was just—my mother with three kids, we never had stability. I never had my own room until my step-dad married my mom. We got a new house here in Conroe. I got my own bedroom. It was just like starting a family. It was great. I loved it.
FIELD: And did your brothers come, too?
DUROY: James—basically James pretty much was raised by my grandparents because of my mother’s being unstable and stuff. So my grandparents pretty much kept him most of the time. He did move to Conroe with us when he was sixteen-years-old and he was a freshman in high school. Yep, and that’s when I started noticing his schizophrenia more, a little bit more. I mean I noticed it when we were young, some things, but not as bad as what it—yeah.
FIELD: Yeah. So you said your mother was unstable. What was your relationship like?
DUROY: With my mother?
FIELD: Mmm hmm.
DUROY: She and I weren’t the closest because I think she resented me for the simple fact that my real father, she wanted to marry him and he wouldn’t and I think she resented me. I don’t know. She was closer to my brother that’s fifteen months younger than me. She really wasn’t that close with James because of him being raised by my grandparents. When she realized the severity of the schizophrenia, she was scared of him and you know, it was just different for her.
FIELD: And I think you said in your first interview that at a certain point, James moved back in with your grandparents.
FIELD: So what happened there when [inaudible]?
DUROY: He was driving home from my grandparents’ house in Greenspoint to Conroe, to our house, and he ran his car off the road. And he hitchhiked, was coming back to Conroe, and he was picked up by two men and was brutally raped where he got a high amount of stitches, almost a hundred I believe it was. He was raped. And so after that, he just lost it and he started mixing drugs and stuff like that and that’s when his schizophrenia really triggered bad. So it was best for him to go live with my grandparents where he didn’t have younger siblings and they could give him all of the attention. So he did go back there. He didn’t stay very long because he would run away and stuff like that.
FIELD: And how old were you when that was going on?
DUROY: I’m three years younger than James, so he was sixteen and I was about thirteen.
FIELD: What was your experience like around that time? Did you get to see him very often?
DUROY: After that, James would run away, and live on the street in halfway houses. And he would run because of the voices, his demand hallucinations he had that would tell him to hurt people in our family and he thought it’d be best for him to leave. So he did because the voices did tell him to hurt my mother. I think because she was so fearful of him, it made her more fearful—made him more fearful of her—her more fearful of him. I think I said that wrong.
FIELD: How did your brothers, your other brothers handle what was going on, too?
DUROY: Bill, who is actually five years younger, and then he and James were never really that close at all. And then my brother Bobby Jean was never raised with my brother James, but he knows—I mean there’d be like families—you know. But James moved with my grandparents and then he eventually came to Conroe and wound up living here in Conroe.
FIELD: With ya’ll or?
DUROY: No, he lived in a little apartment. He lived so many different places and then he’d run away and be gone. We wouldn’t know where he was, stuff like that.
FIELD: How did you make sense of what was going on during that time? Because you were pretty young.
DUROY: I really didn’t. I knew that he was mentally ill and I knew he was having problems. I just didn’t know the extent of it and I didn’t know about his rape. My mother hid that from me until one of the neighbor kids, not kids, teenagers said, ‘Hey, I read about your brother in the paper. That’s horrible.’ And I was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ And he told me and I was just two doors down from our house and I went to the house and I said, ‘Mom, what are these kids saying to me? What’s going on? Did that really happen to James?’ And she took me into her bedroom and took the newspaper out of the closet and sat me down and told me the story.
FIELD: What was that like in that moment?
DUROY: I was thirteen-years-old and myself being sexually molested, I knew what we were talking about, but just—it was hard, it was, to understand two men could do that to a teenage boy. It was hard for me.
FIELD: And it sounds like it was written about in the newspaper and other people knew so did people other than the kid who told you—
DUROY: Well everybody wound up finding out. I mean I was in junior high school and it wound up—everybody—I was even made fun of about it. He was a fag and stuff like that [crying]. It was kind of bullying. I’m going to need a tissue. I’m going to go get one. You want to go get toilet paper out of the bathroom? Yeah, thank you. So that was that and living in a small town, everybody talked about it.
FIELD: What was Conroe like back then?
DUROY: It was a small town. It was not nearly what we are today. It was like all we had was downtown, the square. It was a small town and everybody knew—thank you, Kay—and everybody knew everybody. So yeah. So yeah, everybody knew about it.
FIELD: Did you have a lot of close friends at that time or—
DUROY: Uh huh. I had two really good friends. One was a Pentecostal, Ann Harland, and Gidget Greenwich, which I’m still friends with today. Mm hmm.
FIELD: So as you were getting older and then you graduated from high school, I wonder if you could just talk about your twenties a bit, what your relationship with James was like during that time, and I know you also got married and had a child.
DUROY: Mm hmm. I was seventeen when I had my first son. And at that time when I was pregnant with him, I remember James had, Greenspoint bank, I mean Greenspoint was coming in the mall up there and there was a bank and he—my grandparents lived close to it, like you could go over the back fence. He went over to the bank and tried to rob the bank with a bandana and said he was Jessie James. And then so he was running when he was going back over the fence, the cops grazed him on the head like that and he wound up going to jail for that and when I was pregnant, I remember we were in the courtroom. He thought he was going to get a certain amount of time and they wound up giving him more time, so he just stood up in front of the thing and ran to the door trying to leave. The bailiff just sat there wailing on him, beating on him in front of us. And I was pregnant and it was very sad, but they said he was in the back crying, ‘I want my mommy. I want my mommy.’ And he just was—he wasn’t—I don’t understand how they didn’t know that he was mentally ill and how they, you know, and just—I don’t know. But that was hard for me. And how I found out about that, I was sitting at the doctor’s office and my mother called me at the doctor’s office and told me that my brother had been shot.
FIELD: And how did your mother handle these things?
DUROY: Not well. My mother was addicted to Valium and like anything that’s ever gone on, she’s never—if I was old enough to do it, I did it for her. When James went through his trial, I was there for jury selection. I was working at Goodson Honda in Houston selling cars. And she worked for CVS at the warehouse here, and she just couldn’t do it. So I sat through jury selection through the conviction, and I sat there at that courthouse every day taking notes for her, go home every night and let her know what was going on. She literally gave up to die so she wouldn’t see my brother executed. She was ill. She had schiz—I was going to say schizophrenia—emphysema, asthma, and she died of that.
FIELD: So you mentioned the trial and I thought before we talk a little bit more about what that experience was like would—I wonder when you found out about the crime that had happened and—
DUROY: The crime that got him executed?
FIELD: That got him executed, yes. It sounds like a lot of things were going on.
DUROY: She—we were all friends and we lived in the treehouse apartments here in Conroe. And I was in my early twenties because my youngest son was probably about two. So I think I was about twenty-seven when that happened. Yeah, twenty-seven. I got a phone call early in the morning. My mother was crying and she said, ‘Tina, I need you to go get a newspaper and I need you to call me back.’ I was like, ‘Why?’ And she goes, ‘I don’t want you to drive. Just go get a newspaper and don’t drive after you read it and call me back.’ I went down to the laundry room. My apartment was facing the back and the laundry room was a little bit back here and there was a newspaper thing there and as soon as I got to it, I could see his picture on the front page of the paper.
FIELD: What went through your mind when you saw that picture?
DUROY: I hit the ground. Unbelievable that my brother took someone else’s life. I was upset because he did that but I was made later because he had been so desperate to try to get help. Because his comment was he did it so he could go back to prison where he could feel safe. He wanted to be back in the general population of the prison and if he could have stayed in general population of the prison for the rest of his life, he would have been good. But being in solitary just totally ate his mind up because he wasn’t getting his medications. But I was upset, I was mad, I was hurt, I was all kinds of emotions all over the place, like—because I didn’t know what to feel. Then after it all happened, it was hard because again it was a small town again. It was on the front page of the paper and everybody knew me. I was dating a cop a little bit prior to that. I mean I’m known in this town, so it was just—standing in line I could hear people talking about it in the lines at the grocery store. So it was hard. It’s still hard because of people’s opinions. They don’t understand it.
FIELD: Can you say a little bit more when you say it was hard and what that was like for you?
DUROY: Well after the murder, they had it taped off. We went over there. They had it taped off and we didn’t get to go in there, it was the crime scene. Then we went in there and the lady’s shoes that he had murdered were still in there. Everything was still—we had to clean it up. He murdered her on a set of bunk beds that I had just recently given him. They were my son’s. So that was hard for me and it was hard for me to clean it up and it was hard for me to see my mom do it. And after, she went into a severe depression, like she was no use to the rest of the family for a little bit, you know, it was just—and I can understand. But it was just—I guess that day I lost part of my life, it felt like, you know. Oh, I’m going to cry.
FIELD: Do you want to get more tissues?
DUROY: No, I’m fine.
FIELD: Okay, we can take a break at any point.
DUROY: No, it’s all right.
FIELD: So how old were your sons when that happened?
DUROY: Ninety-four, it was ninety-four, right?
DUROY: I can’t even think, ninety-four. My oldest son would have been fourteen. Ninety-four, and then Josh would have been—he was born in eighty-six—he was eight.
FIELD: And I think you said your youngest was two. No?
FIELD: No? I misheard that.
DUROY: No, ninety-four, my son—because he was born in eighty-six. He was eight. My youngest was eight, yeah.
FIELD: So did—I’m just curious because fourteen, he’s seeing the newspapers and interacting with people at the high school—
DUROY: Same as my mother did me. I shielded him a little bit until I knew all the details and until I could figure out the way to tell him about it. I set them both down to tell them about it. They knew my brother, and actually, like weeks prior to the murder, his case worker had come to my house and asked me to let James come like with me, and I couldn’t because I had small children and because of something that James did to me as a child. So I just couldn’t do that. Of course after what he did, I carried a lot of guilt. What if I would have come let him live with me? But I had to learn to let that go because I did the right thing for my children.
FIELD: So how soon after hearing of what happened did you find out that the death penalty was a possibility?
DUROY: I knew right away. Jay Holloman [sp?], which was the prosecutor—I knew right away. He actually—I was at home one day and he came over. We had dogs and I heard the dogs barking outside the gate and Jay Holloman was there. And he goes, ‘I want to talk to you about your brother.’ And I didn’t know who he was, the prosecutor. And I didn’t know who he was and I called my mom and I said, ‘Jay Holloman is here.’ And she goes, ‘Get him out of there. You don’t need to be talking to him.’ And he tried to reach out to me even at the court. He put his—but he did—at arraignment—during the trial he put his hand on my brother and said he was a cold, vicious murderer. But of course they had my brother so doped on sleeping aids that he was asleep during the trial and everybody thought that he was just a cold person anyway. But after everything, he did try to come up to me and tell me he was sorry. And I was just like, ‘Get away from me.’ Because I was there every minute of every day.
FIELD: What was—what were your days like during that time? What was it like to spend the day—
DUROY: It was horrible. Through jury selection and everything, it’s like—a lot of them that came, they knew me or—I even knew the judge that was in the court, you know the court. A bunch of them knew me and then seeing my brother falling asleep and everybody looking like—I was so mad because he was so doped up. It’s just—I guess I was in a cloud. I was just a robot. I was doing what I needed to do for my mother. I mean I went and put my job on hold. I literally went to my boss and he’d tell me he understood but not to let out about what was going on because a lot of people wouldn’t understand.
FIELD: What was it like to hear that from your boss?
DUROY: Well I mean I already knew what I’d been through in the past and people not understanding about his illness and I could understand people not understanding that he murdered somebody. They were very good to me.
FIELD: So during the trial—the cute cat is distracting me [laughs]. During the trial, how did you cope with the stress of what was going on and—
DUROY: I drank. I would leave the courthouse every day and go have—or my mother was really taking pills a lot and she was giving me Valium, but yeah. I didn’t. I guess it was like I was numb. Like I always did what my mother told me to do and my mother wanted me to do this and I did it for my mother.
FIELD: Did she ask you to go to the courtroom and take notes for her?
DUROY: Mm hmm.
FIELD: Do you ever wish that—did she ever go to the courtroom?
DUROY: She went to the courtroom during the conviction in the penalty phase because she actually went on the stand like me, because you’re just asking them not to execute your brother, not give him the death penalty. I just looked at the jury and I said, ‘I’m begging you. You don’t know what it’s like.’ And I was just looking at them and all I could see was a fuzz and my cousin said every one of them was crying. And even then, there’s a juror that come back and said if they’d known the extent to his mental illness and that he would have never got out of prison, they would have given him life without the possibility of parole, that he would have never gotten out, they would have given him that. But there were so many things that were not being able to be said in court. My mother—they had papers, literally papers stacked high for my brother. I mean he had been in and out of mental institutions, tried to commit suicide more ways than you could count, tried to slice his wrists from here, drank liquid bleach, he tried to hang himself. He put his Volkswagen in the car and did the exhaust, multiple, multiple with a pill overdose. I mean he was just, you know. People aren’t educated about mental illness. They don’t understand it. Even the attorneys that represented him—at the time, my parents had exhausted—they had been going through everything and once he got off the insurance, we couldn’t do anything for him mental illness, you know. And so the attorneys—he got court-appointed attorneys which were Jarrell Crowe, yep, Jarrell Crowe I love. He’s still a practicing attorney here. And then Rick Stover. And I’ll tell you about him in a minute. But Rick Stover—and they weren’t very educated on the mental illness so I went and checked out library books, sat in the office with them for hours, told them—explained to them—and then told them personal experience and tried to educate them. Well I thought they were doing the best they could. Well I found out—one of James’s attorneys, Rick Stover, would up committing suicide because he was going to prison for videotaping his own daughter in the showers.
FIELD: And that was [inaudible]?
DUROY: And one of—you could look it up. In he—in his office, had nothing but deer. He went deer hunting. It was all a lie. Everything—his whole life was a lie. And he drank a suicide cocktail. See you have these court—they get paid one way of the other, if they win or if they lose. But once his appeals filed through another attorney tried to get—yeah, what was his name? Last name started with an R. I can’t remember.
FIELD: Did you—so you knew obviously that the death penalty was on the table and when the punishment phase of the trial was happening, did you think it was a possibility that they would have—
DUROY: I didn’t think he was going to get the death penalty. I really didn’t. I really didn’t, but when they found out—when they said the death penalty, I just ran out of there and ran to the bathroom. And it was actually the court reporter that I am very good friends with, she was actually dating the judge and she came in there and checked on me. Yeah, my mom and her best fried left and went out and started drinking, left me at the courthouse on the stairs by myself.
FIELD: What did you do after that?
DUROY: Went home and slept because I was exhausted. And when I found out afterwards if he had an execution date, I was actually in the store shopping and the same lady, the court reporter, I seen her in there and I said, ‘Have you heard anything? Has James got a date?’ She goes—she just looked at me and went blank and she goes, ‘He just got a date.’ And it was November 20th, I think his first date was, when he got the stay of execution.
FIELD: So it sounds like you had a lot responsibility at that time for taking care of your mother emotionally and—
DUROY: It’s always been like that for her, but yeah.
FIELD: And also taking care of your children. And how did you balance all of that?
DUROY: After all of it was over with, I think I pretty much just tried to block it out of my mind and I started just hanging out with my friends. All of my friends like her, we all go to this little club, Daniel’s, and I just to erase it, you know, until somebody brought it up, which was quite often. I went to the execution part. I’ll tell you about that in a minute, but—it’s just—and I did got see him quite a bit but every time I’d leave I’d be so distraught because the first time that I visited him, they thought he was a drug addict. So we was spitting. He was wanting his medicine. He said, ‘I need my medicine.’ They thought he was talking about drugs or whatever and they put a muzzle on his mouth—they had a muzzle—or one of those things. But I visited him up until he died.
FIELD: What was it like to visit him?
DUROY: It just depends because sometimes he’d be at the Polunksy Unit, the death row prison, which my father actually built and then—my step-father—and then or he’d be at Jester IV, which is in Richmond. It’s the psychiatric prison because he would drink his own urine and eat his own feces. I don’t know if you’ve read that, but yeah, he did that. So my husband now, we were just dating, he would drive me every time because I never knew what I’d be like, and I’d take Tylenol PM with me in case I needed to go out.
FIELD: Would you take the Tylenol PM for the drive back or—?
DUROY: My husband was driving, yeah. When we went to Richmond, yeah. I mean ‘cause many times I’d come out of there just bawling, just seeing how he was treated or the frame of mind he was in or—‘cause he just wasn’t getting his medication. He was tortured.
FIELD: Did you ever feel like you didn’t want to go visit him because it was just too much?
DUROY: Oh yeah, and there were times that I didn’t, but most of the time I did because no one else was going to see him. Well my step-father went to go see him, but when my step-father died, there was nobody.
FIELD: Were you frustrated with your family members that they weren’t going to visit him?
DUROY: Well my brother that’s younger than me, fifteen months younger than me, he was never—I think his drug—well I know his drug addiction—he wasn’t even addicted to drugs then. No, when James first—I don’t know, it’s been thirty years [inaudible]. No, and my aunt—I don’t have a big family. My mom and dad and my brother that’s in California. When he was here he would go. And he always wrote him letters and sent him commissary money and stuff. People would write him but not a lot of people would go.
FIELD: Were you able to talk to your friends or your husband about what it was like for you?
DUROY: My husband was a very big support to me. My husband was an ex-police officer and he was for the death penalty until he met me, until he went through all this with me. It changed his views a lot. He’s the one that’s into Amnesty International and everything like that. It changed him a lot as a person. He said he never realized what families go through and the circumstances. He thought, if your guilty, you’re guilty or whatever. He was—but it changed him a lot. And then my father’s brother’s wife, my aunt, is a great support system for me. She witnessed the execution also. But yeah, and then you know, I had support from family and friends, yeah.
FIELD: Did you feel like you could talk to them about what you were going through?
DUROY: The ones that I knew, yeah. I mean I was open and honest about—especially her because I found out about—she’s a true Christian woman. I can tell her about anything. She just never judged me, never judged. That’s why we’re still friends. But so, yeah there’s people I could talk to. And then there’s people I couldn’t talk to. And then my mother has a best friend and they were best friends since they were thirteen and she was like a second mother to me, and she was very supportive to me through that, too.
FIELD: Would she—did she help with your mother? Help you take care of your mother?
DUROY: My mother was a hard-headed woman. She didn’t want a lot of people to take care of her, yeah.
FIELD: I’m just wondering about what other support you had during that time, not just family and friends, but did you—
DUROY: Seek psych help? No.
FIELD: No, did you ever want to?
DUROY: I compressed it. I put it in. I think I compressed it for a long time, a very long time. I’m actually in therapy and I’m a lot better about talking about it because it’s—I’ve had time. And so it’s helping me a lot. For a long time, and this is one thing she told me, when I [inaudible]. I was like, ‘How could God do this to me? How could God do…’ ‘Tina, it’s not God. It’s man.’ You remember telling me that? So it took me hearing that ‘cause I was like why’s all this—going through—why’s God doing this to me? But I’m bipolar, and so yeah. I’m seeing him for that, so I don’t know if—
FIELD: When you started going to see—to get some mental health care, did the people that you saw know right away that this was an experience that you had been through?
DUROY: Therapists and stuff? Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was going to tell you something [inaudible]
[off camera]: I did try grief therapy for a little while.
DUROY: I was in grief group with her. She taught grief group because I lost my mother, my brother, and then my dad. I was in grief group, yeah. I really was. She’s lost three children so, teaches grief and stuff. I was going to tell you something. I forgot.
FIELD: Well, what else, going back to that time when he was still on death row and at the psychiatric prison, was there anything during that time other than your friends and family that brought you comfort or—
DUROY: I know what I was going to tell you. I was in such fear of having schizophrenia. I was in such fear of it, such fear that my children would get it, because it does skip a generation. I was in constant fear. Everything my boys did, I was paying attention because I really was concerned about my youngest son. And then when my parents, my dad died, we had to find James’s real father and it comes from his real father, so that kind of gave me, I don’t know, I guess that’s why I was so scared to seek help, because I didn’t want to be diagnosed and have that on me. And I didn’t want to get on medication. I didn’t want everyone thinking [inaudible]. That’s why I didn’t seek help at first.
FIELD: How did that—say more about that and watching your children and that fear.
DUROY: It’s just like my youngest son was very artistic and he liked to play by himself, and that was James. James was so artistic. And I think a lot of schizophrenias are like in graphic demons and stuff, you know. So I just thought I saw some of the qualities. I was probably reading more into it than that, but I was definitely concerned. But no one else in our family has ever had schizophrenia.
FIELD: How often were you worried about all of that?
DUROY: Constantly until I think he became a teenager, because he was a teenager when we found out about James’s father, real father. He was a teenager when James was executed, yeah.
FIELD: So you talked about telling your children about what happened, but what was it like—how aware were they of what was going on beyond what had happened and that there was a trial? Did you talk with them as it was happening about—
FIELD: You didn’t.
DUROY: No. I just tried to protect them. I didn’t tell them a lot. They knew that my brother was mentally ill because they had grown up around him and they had seen things and they had heard some of the stories. But I did protect them. I never left them alone with him, you know. But they did see him when he would come over sometimes in his real paranoid state, where he would just want to crawl up in a corner and look at everybody. They seen that, but they knew my brother had an illness. They became kind of protective when they got older. They were scared that he would hurt me or something, too, though.
FIELD: Could they tell how much stress you were under during the trial and when James was on death row? How did they perceive—
DUROY: My oldest son, ‘cause like I said, I had him when I was seventeen and he was like my best friend. And it was just like, he was very protective, he was, and he was worried. Like if he knew I was going to see him and he didn’t think I was—he’d be like, ‘Why don’t you just sit it out today?’ He was very protective. But they had concerns. I mean even my boys, they got picked on and bullied in school, like ‘oh your uncle’s a murderer’, you know, this, this, you know how it can be. Even the adults would say something to them, so. They learned to deal with it.
FIELD: How did you deal with it when people would say things to you when it was going on? What was your way of—
DUROY: If they said something that was negative or that wasn’t healthy for me, I just isolated from them. Mm hmm.
FIELD: What do you mean when you say you isolated from them?
DUROY: I wasn’t around them. I ended many friendships or whatever, you know. There was one so-called friend that said he got what he wanted. Not her. I’m not looking at her because of [inaudible] she knows what I’m talking about. He said he got what he wanted, and stuff like that. And she and I had been friends for a long time, but she believes in the death penalty.
FIELD: Do a lot of people around you believe in the death penalty?
DUROY: Yes, and until they’ve heard my story, there are a lot of people who have heard my story in intense outpatient right now. When they hear my story, it’s just like ‘wow’. You know it’s just, and that’s why I’d like to tell my story more to try to educate people and help people that are in the same position as myself, families that are suffering due to the loss—lack of mental health for their family. And that’s what it is to me. I think it’s just a lack of mental health. I think if my brother could have gotten the help he needed, we wouldn’t be here today. I think our mental facilities are our prison systems. I think if they put as much money in a mental health facility as they do our prison systems, our prisons wouldn’t be overcrowded. I’d rather pay tax dollars for mentally ill people, I would. I mean ya’ll know the Kennedys had a schizophrenic daughter, don’t you? And her dad got her a lobotomy. The mother knew nothing about it. That’s crazy.
FIELD: What do you think about when you think about stories like the Kennedys?
DUROY: Well back in the day, from what I understand, when people had schizophrenia, the families thought it was something they did wrong. And people still to this day are ashamed of it. They don’t tell anybody or are like—people, how they categorize. Oh, they’re bipolar, or something. It’s like it’s nothing you’ve done. My brother was born schizophrenic and my brother was dealt a horrible life. I’d rather my brother been born with Downs Syndrome. They’re happy, content, and smiling. I never, especially after the rape, saw my brother smile, unless it was a manic, crazy smile. He never smiled. He had no quality of life. I always said if I could give him a year of my life, I would sit in a room for a year just to give him a year to enjoy life. He would try to get jobs around here because schizophrenia, they can tell. I can read a schizophrenic from a mile away. She and I feed the homeless. There was this one guy one day and he would not look up. And I was like, I told Kay, ‘He’s schizophrenic.’ And she’s like, ‘Okay.’ And when we finished feeding them, I went over there and sat down and was like, ‘You remind me of my brother.’ And he wouldn’t look up. I said, ‘He was schizophrenic.’ And he looked up at me and he goes, ‘How did you know?’ I said, ‘I grew up with a brother that was schizophrenic.’ And that young man was on a bus leaving his family, and that’s why he was homeless. He was getting away. He said, ‘The voices are controlling me.’ And that’s how I got him to open up and talk. I mean they won’t talk ‘cause they’re fearful of everybody. Like I said, my brother would try to get a job. He tried to get a job at Denny’s just washing dishes. He was so frustrated ‘cause no one would give him a chance ‘cause they’re scared of it. They’re scared of schizophrenia. They’re scared of the unknown and rightfully so in some cases. They can—but they need to be treated. Mental illness is a bigger epidemic than anybody knows. It’s everywhere. Most of the homeless you see today are mentally ill. And people think, oh, that’s their fault ‘cause they shouldn’t be homeless. They’re bad choices—it’s not bad choices. They may have a beautiful—there’s one man that walks around Conroe and has for years and his father is a doctor. He’s got a great family but he chooses to live that way, not be a burden. I take care of another young man, I don’t take care of him but we’re friends. He’s mentally ill and he chooses to live on the street than to be a burden.
FIELD: Did you ever feel burdened by James?
DUROY: Maybe a little bit before the murder and everything, ‘cause I kind of felt resentment ‘cause he was getting all the attention because he was ill. And I was just so aggravated with it, I was. But I never was mean to my brother, never. I was very protective of him ‘cause I seen him bullied. Even in later years, I seen some of his friends from high school pick on him and stuff like that even as adults. And I was very protective of him.
FIELD: Did it ever feel—I know you said that it’s not something to be ashamed of, schizophrenia isn’t something to be ashamed of, but did you ever have feelings of sharing your frustration [doorbell rings].
DUROY: Hold on one second.
[END OF PART 1]
Interview with Ms. Tina Duroy
FIELD: So I think I had just asked if you had ever felt burdened—
DUROY: Burdened? You asked me if I felt ashamed.
DUROY: Yeah, and you asked me if I felt burdened. Yeah, we've already answered those questions, yeah.
FIELD: So, you mentioned earlier when you—that James' caseworker had asked if he could live with you and you said no to protect your family, and sometimes you felt guilty, is that—?
DUROY: I felt guilty for not letting him move in with me. I thought—I felt if I had let him move in with me it wouldn't have happened. But what if it had happened with something in my household, you know what I mean? I mean, I loved James, and I wasn't scared for myself from James, because James never was any way towards me, harmful—well, harmful, he was, but—not aggressive, mean. Especially my later years. I don't know if you know, but as a child he molested me.
FIELD: Would you like to talk about that a little bit?
DUROY: It's okay. It was only one time and it was—I was having a birthday party and I wanted to play some records and I'd asked him to borrow his record player, and he—my grandfather had these magazines, they were the sex to sexy—I don't know if—y'all probably never heard of them. Y'all are young. [To Kay] She knows. They're like cartoons—sexual magazines and it was like—and he says, if you'll do this with me. So, it went from there. He did not rape me, but he did molest me. And it was only the one time. And before he was executed I asked him—I said, can you please tell me you're sorry so I can have some closure? I said, I don't hold it against you, I don't resent you, I'm not mad about it anymore, but I'd like to find closure. And that day he said, I didn't do it, I don't know what you're talking about. And so I just thought maybe he does not remember. Because he does have blackouts and you know—but the day before he was getting executed you have like, an all day visit at the prison, they let you visit all day. My aunt that was with me went to go use the restroom or something and he looked down and he goes, I need to say something. And he goes, I need to tell you I'm sorry. I don't want to leave without giving you that closure, because I'm sorry. So, that was a great thing.
FIELD: Did it give you a sense of closure to hear that from him?
DUROY: Yeah. Like I said, I wasn't mad because I forgave him a long time ago. When I was younger I was very, very angry. Very angry. But when I found out he was mentally ill I forgave him. But I have post-traumatic stress disorder because of that and others—so. But I don't hold it against him, I don't have resentment, and I've got closure with it.
FIELD: When you say you have post-traumatic stress disorder, how does that impact your day to day life?
DUROY: Post-traumatic stress disorder you can have lots of bad dreams, there's triggers, like if you're an alcoholic or something. And there's a trigger that triggers you to want to drink, there's triggers that trigger it. Like—also, like, for James, for his execution, there's triggers for me. Like, when you see on the news, when you see the gurney, I cannot stand that. And one time I gave a—we did an exhibit at the art museum in Houston and they had a gurney in there without asking me before I got there, and when I got there and saw it, I ran out. And I wasn't going to go back. But it's just things that trigger it. I can kind of live in this little la la land, and not think about things, but sometimes when I'm alone, things trigger.
FIELD: What are other sorts of things that you find triggering?
DUROY: About my brother, James? Just the talks of mental illness or even—I suffer from alcoholism and I'm in classes and stuff like that so hearing other people talk about things and stuff like that—being in therapy, I have to talk about things, which I've blocked things out and my therapist said some of it's a gift that I can not remember things, but some of it—like I'm doing the eye-movement thing right now to try to help with the trauma and stuff like that, but there's always going to be a trigger. It's never going to be a hundred percent. Like I told you, it's getting easier—if you were to talk to me fifteen years ago, to ten years ago, to—just up until the last five years I've actually gotten a lot better whereas I know there's nothing I can do, and I can't let it control the rest of my life. Because it did. It defined me for a long time. It defined me. I'm the sister of a murderer. I'm the sister of a mentally ill person. I'm the sister this, I'm the sister—I've carried a lot of—I don't know. I didn't have my own identity. I felt like I was that sister, that person. So I'm still trying to find myself with it.
FIELD: What has helped in the past, say ten years? Especially because we did the first interview with you ten years ago?
DUROY: The last ten years has not been easy. I mean, like I said, I'm an alcoholic, and it's—I drank a lot. I self medicated a lot. I didn't want to be around people. I isolated and I still tend to isolate. I'm an isolator. I don't like to really get to know a lot of people because—I don't know. I just keep my friends and my family close and you know.
FIELD: And, so is it in the past few years that you have gotten some help and treatment? And what sorts of things have been helpful about that? What's been useful for you?
DUROY: I'm seeing a psychiatrist, which I'm actually being properly medicated now, because for years I didn't—I did not—I would just go to my family—regular family doctor and I was just on antidepressants, but now I'm being treated for all post-traumatic stress disorder, which is helped me tremendously with the medication and the therapy and the learning techniques of breathing and stuff for anxiety and things like that. Because I get severe anxiety where it can be really bad. And anxiety is because of that, too, because of the trauma.
DUROY: [to Kay] If you want to say anything, chime in—anything about what I've been going through, you let 'em know. She's over there just being quiet. [laughter]
FIELD: Is there anything that you wish that you had known about treatment options ten or fifteen years ago?
DUROY: Not to be so scared. And that was just the only reason why I didn't. And I think the reason is, too, is because I seen the medical help that my brother got and I didn't think there was going to be anything that helped me. I just thought that I was goignto have to live with everything for the rest of my life.
FIELD: I know that you said that you were afraid to seek treatment because you didn't want to find out that you were schizophrenic, too, and so did you wait until after you found out about his father?
DUROY: But I also was—felt comfort in knowing that I was already passed the age. But I also—it wasn't just schizophrenia. It was other mental disorders, such as, like I said, Bipolar. I was ashamed about being Bipolar for a long time. And I never medicated because—I was, likeI said, scared, and I didn't want people to know because—oh, you're crazy like your brother, or this this this. Oh yeah. I was scared.
FIELD: How did you move through those feelings to the point where you are now?
DUROY: It's not easy. Every day is still a challenge to me. [Sighs]. Like today, I'm so glad that I got married on his anniversary. Today he's been gone sixteen years. I got married a year to the day on his anniversary. Death anniversary. I had been dating my husband [coughs] for three years and he'd been asking me to marry him and I was like, no I don't want to get married. And he went through everything with my brother with me. He met me a year after my mother died, so I finally—he was going to take the day off that my brother was executed. He was like, I'm gonna take off next Thursday or whatever it was and I'm gonna spend the day with you. And I was like, well, let's just go get married. So I called my friend, she made me a homemade bouquet and everything. I called my friends and we had a little wedding down there and I'm so glad I did it because like, today I wake up and I don't just—well, I did today wake up and was thinking about James because y'all were coming, more. But usually every year I wake up now and it's not the first thing I think about in the morning. I don't wake up and say, oh, today's James's death anniversary. I'll wake up—It's my anniversary. I tried to make a bad day into a better day and also know that my brother wanted me to be happy. So that's helped me to—and then my husband, the emotional support from my husband. My husband's been great. My friends. It's just—I've had to learn to accept things myself. It was me not accepting things that have happened in my past. I didn't ever really want to think about it, talk about it, but I've gotta find closure in it. It consumed my life for a long time. It really did. I wouldn't leave the house for days. I would drink horribly. But what it says is like—victim impact. It creates another victim. The person my brother killed is not the only victim. Her family's victims; we're victims. It creates—it's not just them.
FIELD: I wonder if you could tell me a little bit more about what it was like for you in these periods of isolation when you were not leaving your house and experiencing—
DUROY: I was suicidal. I wanted my life to be over. I was tired. After losing my mother and then my brother and then my dad, I was extremely suicidal. And I did try. I tried to overdose on pills. But, I'm passed that now. I've got family and I know that my life is more than that. And I can't let it define me and it's just—I don't know.
FIELD: Do you need a break?
FIELD: So, how do you take care of yourself now? Now that you're in a better place, what do you do to help yourself?
DUROY: And another thing that helped me for—up until this last December, I had my own business. I opened a kids resale shop. And that helped me tremendously. It really did, but then I just got to where I'm tired right now and I closed it down and I just need to work on myself being a lot better and healthier person and being more productive with my family. Because at my store I could go to work and block it all out, I could go to work and be somebody different and then when I come home, you know—it helped me out of my depression a lot.
FIELD: What—so I know you went to the grief group. What—when—help me understand what time period you were going to that group during?
DUROY: Grief group I think I started going right after James was executed. Or was it after Mother? No, it was after James. Yeah, cause I really really [inaudible]. It was after James and in between my dad.
KAY: We did it from two-thousand-and--he was executed in two-thousand-three or four?
DUROY: Four. Three.
KAY: Three? I think it was seven. 2007. Because I already had Levi[?]--
KAY:--when I was doing the grief group.
DUROY: Well, then it must have been after my dad, then, too. It was after--because I'd lost all three of them back to back and they were saying that I didn't have time to grieve before I lost somebody else.
KAY: And Tina did not want to divulge that she was the sister of someone who was executed in grief group. She was afraid that the other people in there would not see her with compassionate eyes. And she and I talked about it for a while before she finally opened up. And in our grief group she was met with understanding, which was very helpful. But I do know personally that there are people who don't always see that Tina's family had a great loss also. And that they have a right to grieve just like anybody else.
DUROY: Yeah. See why I love her? [laughter]
FIELD: So, what was it like when you were--so you attended the grief group for a while before you shared about James. What was it like when you finally were able to share?
DUROY: It was actually a lot better than I thought it was going to be. They welcomed me with open arms and they showed a lot of compassion, and I just got a lot of support through there. Not only with Kay but from other people from her church and stuff like that. Got a lot of support.
FIELD: Did you ever get support from other people who also had loved ones who had been on death row or had been executed?
DUROY: Only through the associations that I had done--the other--I mean, I've done a lot. I don't know if you can look on my--Google my name and you can see it or James's name and you can see it. I've done a lot of---with different groups. Amnesty International; Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty; David Atwood and all them. Susan--I can't even tell you all the things that I've done. But I've found a lot of--like I said, one time I was on a panel where there were victims of people that had murdered their family or the ones that our family had murdered somebody [?] and I was very scared of that. I was very scared about being on that and how they were gonna--but they were there not seeking the death penalty for the people that caused harm to their family. And so it was very good for me. But then, lot of times I was leaving and coming home because it was still so fresh and new, I was coming home and I would be in such a depression I just--my husband's just, You gotta stop. You gotta get yourself healthy before you can start doing any of this anymore. Because people are coming out of the woodwork wanting to do stories. And I want to help. I mean, if I could help one other person not go through this, just one person, I would love to. But you know, when I was in Switzerland--when I was in Switzerland, they asked me at the Better Business--when I was speaking--What do you expect to gain out of this?
I just would like for the mental illness to bring more awareness to it and if people who are mentally ill, if they were properly taken care of, might not go to the extreme where my brother went. I firmly believe if my brother would have gotten the help or if he could have been somewhere in a controlled environment, he would have lived a happy, productive life by himself like that. But honestly, and I know this sounds horrible to say and this might not be good for your interview, but my brother's no longer suffering in the hands of the state of Texas. He's not being abused. He's not being raped in the prisons. He was raped. Many times and I never knew that until after he was executed.
After reading some of the paperwork that came from the prison. He wasn't given his medication. And when I seen him in his coffin, with no more fear, just peace. I was just like--my brother's never going to suffer any more. He's gonna go to Heaven. And I know he's in Heaven. So that's just--you know. I struggle with things like that, too.
FIELD: Is that a comfort to you?
DUROY: Knowing that he's--
FIELD: Knowing that he's at peace?
DUROY: Yep. You know, I hate when people say when somebody passes away, Oh, they're in a better place. I hate that. And I never say that to people. But it is true in this case. To me it's true.
FIELD: Did you ever feel--hearing you talk about that, I don't know if relief is the right word, but having that slight comfort after his execution--were there ever periods leading up to it when you would go to visit him and you would just want it to be over?
DUROY: He did--or me?
FIELD: You. Or him--but you.
DUROY: When he got the first stay of execution in November and I went to go see him. He was in the Polunsky Unit and I went by myself that day. When I got there he was just so agitated I could tell--I said, Hey, brother, how are you? And I could tell something was wrong and he stood up, and he took the phone--he was talking to me--and he just slammed it down like this. Goes, Why would you get me a stay of execution? Are you just trying to keep me alive longer so they can torture me more? And he was saying it in there--guards came in and just slammed him up against the wall in front of me. And made me leave. But he was ready to go. He'd already made peace; he had a chaplain. Anne Cox [Kathy Cox]. She was very good and he was already made peace and he was ready to go. And so I made my mind up that day that I would not try to get him another stay of execution. I would not keep going through this for him.
FIELD: Was that--tell me about how you came to that sense. Was it--for him or did you feel like it would be better for him?
DUROY: It was for him, but selfishly it was for myself, too. I'll be honest. It was for myself. Because I just--I didn't want to see him hurt anymore. It wasn't--and it's not--I don't think it's selfish, I guess, but I just didn't want to see him hurt any more. But selfishly for myself I was ready.
FIELD: Were you aware of the toll all of this was taking on you?
DUROY: If you could see pictures of me from then--I look so totally different. I was just--
ALEXA ROBOT: Actually, my friend Jimmy Fallon wants to tell a joke. Let's give him a shot.
DUROY: Alexa, Stop. Alexa! Sorry. [laughter] What did the horse do. What was the question, I'm sorry.
FIELD: If you were aware of the toll it was taking on you during the time.
DUROY: Yes and no. Yes because I was drinking so much and then no because I didn't care. Whenever I found out his execution date I would wake up in the morning and go buy a fifth of hundred proof Hot Damn and maybe go back for more. I was numbing. I was doing what medication should have been doing to help me and it was just causing more problems.
FIELD: What were your relationships like with your family during that time?
DUROY: They were very supportive and sympathetic but it also caused problems with my oldest son, with his kids. Because I was drinking too much.
FIELD: He had children at that point?
DUROY: He had my little granddaughter at that point. That's seventeen now.
FIELD: What--you just said you were doing what medication should have been doing, but what else would have helped you at that time. Would there have been anything that would have been a more beneficial way for you to handle the pain of what you were going through? That would have helped.
DUROY: Probably if I would have been in some kind of groups or something. Probably. But I just didn't think that there--at the time I think that I was the only person in the world going through this. The pain was so severe. But I guess if I could have reached out, like a grief group like I was going to, maybe something with other people in the same position, which I may try to do something like that now. Like I said, I'm really wanting to get back in and try to help any way I can. And with this mental illness stuff.
FIELD: Just, tying that back to the advocacy work that you've done with the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and Amnesty, you mentioned the panel you were on with the family members of people who had been murdered, but I wondered--have you just had personal conversations with other family members of people who had been executed, and have you found those helpful? Or not really?
DUROY: Here? Or anywhere?
FIELD: Anywhere. Anytime.
DUROY: I really don't discuss it with outside people. I discuss it with my friends, my family. And then like--in outpatient rehab and stuff I talk about. Or in my classes. But I never--like, today's my brother's death anniversary, I don't say anything on Facebook. I've put on Facebook one time and that was something because Fabian had posted something that had James's picture and it was not a good response so I took it down?
FIELD: From your friends? Your Facebook friends?
DUROY: It was just--I don't know if it was real negative, I just got real defensive real quick. Yeah. And then I don't want everybody to know, so I took it right down. That was just--to me--opening another can of worms. I'm gonna have to explain it to everybody and have to go through it and everything else and have to deal with everybody else's opinions, and I just choose not to do that anymore. I choose just to let it go.
FIELD: So it sounds like you've had a lot of interactions with mental health care for yourself, over the years, especially after James's execution. Were there ever any experiences where you met with someone and they handled it totally incorrectly?
DUROY: About my brother?
DUROY: One of the mutual friends like I was saying, she was a friend of mine and we had been friends for a long time and she'd been through a lot. We'd been through a lot. I mean, her kids--one of her kid's been to prison, all kinds of stuff, so I thought she's gonna be accepting, and she just--she said, Well, I don't want to talk. Because I said, His execution date-- Oh, I don't want to talk about it. I was like, Why? She was like, Because I think he's getting what he deserves. I said, well I don't think we can be friends anymore. But we did continue to be friends and we still are at a distance now, because her views have changed because some of things that's happened to her in her life. But I just choose not to listen to that. I'd rather not--if you're gonna think that way, then I don't need to be your friend.
FIELD: That reminds me--in your first interview, you mentioned that your ex-husband wouldn't let you take your son to visit James? What was that like?
DUROY: Well, my son--my son's name's James, too. James was small and I understand now, but he wouldn't let me take him into the prison.
FIELD: Because he didn't want to your son to be around James or--
DUROY: Subjected to the prison. And now look at him.
FIELD: You say, now look at him? What--
DUROY: It's okay. He just got out of prison himself, my son's dad. So. That's what I said. And usually people that say judgemental things like that, things come back on 'em. Just like I said, the friend from before, her daughter wound up in-- So I just choose not to dwell--I mean, even get into it with them. It's like I said, you can be book smart and you can be street smart and until you've lived in you don't know what it's like. And I wouldn't wish this on anybody. I wouldn't wish schizophrenia on anybody or one. And I wouldn't wish another family to go through--because seriously, it did destroy our family. It caused a lot of pain, it caused--my grandparents, they loved my brother James. And they raised him. And it caused a lot of things for them. My grandfather literally had a stroke when my brother did what he did. He had a stroke and was paralyzed on his left side. And that took my grandfather away from me. It's just--it's not just one thing. Like I said, it's not just the victim. It causes other victims. It causes, so--
FIELD: How did your grandmother react during this time?
DUROY: Very bad. And she actually died when he was in prison. For the stint when he tried to rob the bank. I remember my grandfather--they let him call from the prison and I remember hearing my grandfather in the back room crying and saying, that Mamaw died. And we tried to get him to be able to come to the funeral and they wouldn't let him out. Because my grandmother was like his mother. My mother was like a sister to him, I guess.
FIELD: What was it like for him when your grandmother died?
DUROY: He was--I was eighteen, so he was twenty-one. He was--I guess--he cried on the phone but when he got out of prison, I don't even know how he acted. He had so many stints in prison. [Coughs] But he loved my grandmother but I don't remember.
FIELD: So she died before the murder happened and before he was sentenced to death.
DUROY: My grandfather died also before him.
FIELD: Oh. So the stroke was when he went to prison--
DUROY: Yeah, the stroke was when--when he murdered the woman and he found out he had the stroke because of the stress of what his grandson--but he died before, yeah.
FIELD: Okay. Did your grandparents help with your mother, too?
DUROY: We lived off and on with my grandparents all through my mother's unstable life, we lived with my grandparents a lot.
FIELD: So, setting aside, well. I don't know if you can set aside, but after your grandparents death and especially your grandfather's death, since he died after the murder but before the death sentence, what was that pressure like for you, handling--
DUROY: My grandfather, how he reacted?
FIELD: Well, how he reacted and his death and losing that avenue of support for what you were going through with the trial and with your mother?
DUROY: My grandfather was my best friend, I thought he hung the moon. But when I would go around and after he had the stroke and he knew I went to go see James, he'd look at me--Hmm. Because he couldn't talk. And I'd say--he'd go, Hmm. And I'd say, James? He'd go, Hmm Hmm. He was asking how he was, and I never told him the truth. I'd just always say, oh, Papaw, he's good. I never took his--because no more strain after his stroke. I was not going to do that. I protected him. Mm-hmm.
FIELD: Did it bring you comfort to have him asking about James? [00:29:58]
DUROY: No, because I was worried about how he was going to react if I said anything, so I was worried, what if he has another stroke, or you know.
FIELD: Yeah. And did your mother ever go visit James?
DUROY: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
FIELD: Yeah? How did she handle that?
DUROY: I don't know because she and I—I actually took some time away from her for about three years. And she died—it'll be nineteen years this December.
FIELD: Had you come back together with her—
DUROY: Oh, yeah.
FIELD: --by the time James was executed?
DUROY: She wasn't alive when he was executed.
FIELD: Oh, I'm sorry. That's right.
DUROY: No, we come back to being—yeah.
FIELD: You returned. Was that a result—was the rupture between y'all just everything, did it have anything to do with
the stress of the situation with James?
DUROY: Just her deception of lying to me about my real father. Mm-hmm. That's what it was. Nothing to do with James, nothing to do with anything else. Just that. Mm-hmm.
FIELD: When James was executed what was it like after that in your life?
DUROY: Do you want to talk about the execution?
FIELD: We can. You talk about it in your first interview, so we don't have to if you don't want to. But if you want to we can.
DUROY: If you want to go over—I can. I'll discuss the execution. We can talk about that day.
FIELD: Whatever's good for you.
DUROY: Okay. Um, the day before the execution you get to have a visit, like a seven hour visit. You can set there all day. A and then so the next day was a execution and my whole family went. My dad, my baby brother from California was there, myself, my Aunt Maxine which is my mother's sister-in-law, and then my other brother that's a drug abuser, his wife Ella May was there because she did help a lot with my brother, too. So we were all there and we get there and we go to the Hospitality House and you sit there until the execution time at six o'clock. They keep you there until you see if you're gonna get a pardon from the Governor. And then they walk you over to the other—to the prison where he's going to be executed and you sit in an office still waiting for a pardon, because like the last time, we got over there and the stay of execution, we didn't have to go through it. But you get there, and the five of us—they walk you across to the prison and you can see all your family standing on the picket line—it was my husband, my sons, my daughter-in-law, cousins. There was a bunch of family there. And then you have the ones that are there saying "fry the bastard." Sorry. But that's what they said. Fry the bastard. Let him burn in Hell. And my cousin Steven literally got up in one of their faces and it was a big thing. But they had those kind of people there too. So you get over there and they warn you. They give you all the things. Do not cry out, do not get loud, yada yada yada. They give you all the rules. Well, you go walk by and the first room you're gonna walk by is gonna be the room where the victim's family is. Which was her son and ironically, his name was James Coburn.
DUROY: Yeah. Isn't that weird? In the obituary—my mother went to the woman's funeral.[00:33:37] It was him and his two sons. His one fifteen year old son and his other nephew or something. They literally just wanted to watch him die. Which I understand if somebody murdered my mother, but. [00:33:49]
When you go, the hearse is backed right up to the door already. Um. Mmm. Which I thought that was very cold because I thought they could have at least waited til the family come out. And you go in and it's floor to ceiling plexiglass--thick bullet glass I guess. And it's just standing room, there's nothing in there but it's like a little room, like I'd say like eight-by-eight. And there's a reporter from the Conroe Courier in there, there's—I don't remember who all was in there. And you walk in, you automatically see my brother. He's laying on a gurney. With a pressed white sheet and his arms wrapped to the side, like this. And his arms are strapped down and ace bandages are wrapped around his hand. And the reason being, now I know, is so you can't see his hands if they clench. So anyway, get in there and they asked if there was any—what his last statement is, which y'all heard. He said that he's sorry for anything he caused and he won't be able to hurt anybody any more. He says, I feel like I'm on drugs. And I—he's looking at me the whole time. And they said they're gonna start administering the medication. And he's still looking at me. It has all the IVs going through a little window like this, a little door thing. And all he does is just goes—and he's still looking at me. And he took one more breath and that was it.
And I was screaming out, my brother. And they just covered his head and escorted us out. And when they escorted us out, all of his belongings were sitting there on the sidewalk. Which wasn't much because he gave everything away, but like, I thought that was so coldhearted to leave all of his stuff just like that. They could have gave it to us privately or something. But that was it. And then, so my brother was going to be taken to Corsicana where it's our family burial plot in Corsicana, and so his chaplain had arranged for him to go to the Huntsville funeral home, so we could see him and touch him. And that's where that picture came from. I'm the first one that went in, and yeah. He still had taco meat on his shirt; I'll never forget that. From his last meal. He ate tacos and chocolate cake and cokes. So that was it. And then—that's it.
FIELD: What is it like for you now, to remember that?
DUROY: It hurts, bad. It really hurts [cries]. To me I think it was murder. I don't know. It was the hardest day of my life. The absolute hardest day of my life. But I would never take it back. I would never not go, because I told him that I wouldn't let him die alone. And I didn't. And people ask me, how could you have gone, how could you have witnessed that? How could you not? Are you going to sit there and let your family die alone leave this world alone? There was no way I would have done that. But it's—that's part of post-traumatic stress disorder, too, and the triggers. When they show the gurney on TV and stuff like that or—I just—I have nightmares. For days. And that visual of seeing him. I'll never forget that. Him looking at me. I still have dreams of him looking at me. And some dreams it's like he's telling me he's okay. So that gives me such peace, he's telling me he's okay. And you know what, prior to being executed, I asked him, What do you want to be buried in? I made out every detail what he wanted. And he said, they're not going to let me be buried in my shoes, they're gonna take my shoes and he goes, my feet get so cold. So I crocheted a blanket to cover his feet. And then my uncle made sure they let him wear shoes so I wound up putting the thing behind his head and he wanted to be buried in a Harley Davidson tee-shirt and jeans and a silver cross, because he said he was going to go to Heaven and give mom a ride on a Harley. Yeah. But that was hard, too. Planning his funeral. How do you—I've suffered so many losses in my life. I watched family members suffer through illness, I've had people die of car wrecks, suicide, all kinds of things. When you anticipate somebody was going to take his life, how do you do that? I mean how do you go somewhere and know that you're going to watch your brother die? Then I had to go the next day and pick out flowers. And I live three hours away so I went to Hobby Lobby and I picked out with—Fabian [INAUDIBLE] went with me, and picked out artificial flowers. Yeah.
And then after his funeral, I pretty much stayed for three months solid just in my house and drunk. Because I just—I'd lost my mom, I'd lost my brother—I was just. And I feel like he wasn't given a chance in life. [00:40:30]
I feel like if things could have been different he might've had at least some quality of life. But he had none. And that's what people need to be educated on mental illness. People in our prison systems, our police officers, our attorneys, need to be educated on this illness that they're representing. They're representing these mentally ill people and they know nothing about what they're—I mean, they know the logistics, they know the legal stuff, but they know nothing.
FIELD: What do you do, and I know we've talked about this a little bit, how do you take care of yourself today?
DUROY: One day at a time.
FIELD: One day at a time. Are there any things that bring you comfort?
DUROY: Family and friends. I love doing service work. I love helping other people. That's my passion. [To Kay] Same
FIELD: And what is it like for you when you talked about helping out with homeless people and seeing when they are suffering from schizophrenia, what does that feel like for you—
DUROY: Well, I actually got started feeding the homeless with Kay. Her son that was killed—what year?
DUROY: Ninety-nine. He was waiting for the bus in front of their neighborhood. And got struck by a truck. But her son, one night she got up, she said she had noticed that food had been missing out of her fridgerator. The leftovers. So one night she got up and she noticed her son walking out the door with the food. She was like, Randy, where are you going? And he told her the story—there was a man at the park he was giving the food to. And she goes, Randy, he might hurt you. Mama, he ain't gonna hurt me. So Kay got started in with feeding the homeless and she got me involved in it. It's Conroe House of Prayer, called CHOP. And she and I both did it for a long time. We need to get back. But that's where we're going—we're talking about the thing we're going to on April 4th. But she's the one that got me into it. But like, me helping, talking to that young man, maybe I gave him a glimmer of hope or maybe I gave him some kind words that people don't. Because he's—he was so withdrawn, and with schizophrenia they're so paranoid, but it makes me feel like I making just a little difference with somebody. And the guy that I was—helping, a little bit. Andrew, my friend, and I was—I'm so in love with this guy. He's thirty-five years old and he's such an amazing person. I actually used to let him sleep in my store on bad weather nights, and I told my husband after I closed my store, I've been letting Andrew sleep in my store. And he goes, I knew you were. [Laughter]
I find comfort and when I do it, I think about my brother. What if somebody—maybe somebody else would have been nice to my brother. Or instead of seeing the mean. I've seen grown men sit there and flick lit cigarettes at him one time. And my brother just sat there because, I don't know. I mean, not me. I didn't sit there. But people with mental illness they're—it's just—they just need some help and some kind words I think.
FIELD: How do you keep his memory alive?
DUROY: For one I named both his boys after him. My first one is James and his middle name was Blake so my other one, I named him Blake. Joshua Blake. But, just in my heart and in my own memories. I think about the good things when we were kids and we used to go to the river with my grandparents, we used to go to the beach house, we used to do everything when we were kids. He was so fun. And then I think the first time I ever really realized something was wrong, is I think I was eleven years old, and he was maybe fourteen, or maybe twelve or fifteen. He asked me to make him some tea. We were at my grandparents' house, he wanted me to make some tea, and so I was boiling tea and he threw mushrooms in it. I didn't know what it was. So after I seen him drink it, I knew it was something bad. But he was self-medicating himself from the hallucinations, I guess he was feeding more into it. But he was on severely, severely heavy medications. Thorazine and Cogentin when he first started, and Thorazine and Cogentin are like, horse tranquilizers. So he was on some heavy medication. But I have memories, good memories of him. When we were going to the beach and stuff. But it's just from about—twelve years—me being twelve years from then, when he was fifteen, it was not a whole bunch of happy memories. I felt sorry for him, and then I would get angry at him because I didn't know what he was going through. I didn't know. I thought he was just being a rebellious teenager or he was smoking pot, I just—I thought that's what it was. I didn't know. And then when I finally realized what was going on—and I think I knew he was schizophrenic, but I didn't realize the depth of it until after he was assaulted himself. Yep.
FIELD: Matt, do you have any questions?
GOSSAGE: No, thank you.
FIELD: Kay, is there anything you'd like to add?
FIELD: And there is anything else that you would like to talk about that we haven't covered, or anything that you'd like to go back to and say more about?
DUROY: No, I'd just like to say that anything I can do for y'all to help you in this adventure and help you in this, I would love to be a part of it.
FIELD: Thank you.
DUROY: Thank you.
[END OF PART TWO]
[END OF INTERVIEW]