Man set to die for 2nd murder while on parole for 1st
Second victim, who ran a Sunday school, was stabbed in 1999.
would personally save $500 before the city would give them $4,000.
The $600,000 given to the program was evenly split between the city’s housing trust fund and a federal grant. The program has been in existence since 2011. It still has $100,000 left with 22 remaining participants.
The program is now in limbo. The federal govern- ment canceled it for all par- ticipating cities last year and gave Austin until March to spend any remaining federal funds or forfeit them.
It was in that context that the Neighborhood Housing and Community Develop- ment department opted to increase the dollar match from 4-to-1 to 8-to-1. The audit also notes that city staff prioritized spending the money rather than “safeguarding” those funds.
In an examination of 126 cases, the audit found docu- mentation problems with 72 percent. The staff later clarified that some documentation did exist but wasn’t always with the file. Some- times verification that a pur- chase authorized under the program was legitimate could take the form of an email or phone call that was never logged into participants’ files.
For instance, the audit questioned the purchase of a $2,172 “gaming computer” with top-of-the-line hardware for one participant. The program’s manager, Leti- tia Brown, said the city did email the participant’s professor, who said that was an appropriate level computer for an engineering student.
“That is not in the docu- mentation, so it looks questionable to us on paper,” said Mary Dory, the auditor in charge of the audit.
Another focus was what appeared to be about $20,000 given to a group of artists who seemed to know one another. Each provided a business plan indi- cating an upcoming album or other work. However, the audit found, nothing was produced.
“It is possible that one indi- vidual found that it was rela- tively easy to receive $4,000 from the city and informed their colleagues of the opportunity,” the audit said.
The audit found no evi- dence of fraud committed by city staffers. But it noted that some questionable prac- tices created a potential for fraud.
Management at the department in charge agreed with all recommendations made in the audit.
“With audit findings of this magnitude we greatly understand and appreciate them,” said Neighborhood Housing Director Rosie True- love, who joined the depart- ment in 2016.
“I like to think that when we undergo audits, I try to see these as opportunities for us to see things brought forward that I might not necessarily be able to realize oth- erwise,” Truelove said.
Carol Lynn Thomas Hall knew William Rayford had spent time in prison for killing his estranged wife but defended her own relationship with him, tell- ing relatives she believed it was her Christian duty to give the parolee a second chance.
The Dallas woman who ran Sunday school at her church became Rayford’s second murder victim in an attack eerily similar to his first killing.
Rayford, 64, was set to die Tuesday for Hall’s 1999 slay- ing. He’d be the nation’s second inmate executed this year, both in Texas. Another is set for Thursday in Texas.
Attorneys for Rayford were trying to halt his execution, arguing to the U.S. Supreme Court his death sentence was tainted because his lawyer, while questioning a prison expert during the punish- ment phase of Rayford’s trial in 2000, was deficient for introducing race.
The witness also was wrong in testifying the racial makeup of a prison “is linked to the amount of violence within that unit, and by obvious implication, that people like Mr. Rayford — a black man — are the cause of the violence,” Nadia Wood, a Dallas-based federal public defender, told the high court.
Lawyers also argued in an appeal to a federal judge in Dallas that a federal court earlier improperly denied money for his appeals, that Hall’s slaying may not have qualified for a capital murder charge and that Rayford suffered brain damage from lead poisoning because he grew up near a toxic site and carries lead residue from old gunshot wounds.
Prosecutors said arguments about race mischaracterized the trial testimony, drew conclusions not supported in the trial record and did not encourage jurors to consider Rayford’s race when considering his punishment.
Evidence “more than established” Rayford kidnapped Hall while trying to kill her, supporting the capital murder charge, and arguments about lead poisoning were based on a “vague, general and nebulous conclusion” by a defense expert, Jay Clendenin, an assistant Texas attorney general, said in a court filing.
Evidence showed Hall, who knew Rayford since they both grew up in a Dallas housing project, had broken up with him two months earlier. He entered her home in the Oak Cliff area of south Dallas Nov. 16, 1999, using a key she didn’t know he had. Her son, Benjamin, then 11, was hit on the head and suffered a punctured lung from a stab wound.
Benjamin testified at Rayford’s trial how his mother had run from the home with Rayford in pursuit, how Rayford stabbed him in the back while he tried to protect his mom and how he watched as she was carried by Rayford toward the drainage pipe where her body eventually was found.
Evidence showed Hall, 44, was beaten, stabbed repeatedly and strangled. Her body was found 300 feet inside the drainage pipe behind her home.
Rayford in 1986 was convicted of murder for stabbing his wife, Gail Rayford, in front of their four children.