Man set to die for 2nd mur­der while on pa­role for 1st

Sec­ond vic­tim, who ran a Sun­day school, was stabbed in 1999.

Austin American-Statesman - - MONEY & MARKETS - Con­tact Philip Jankowski at 512-445-3702. By Michael Graczyk

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.

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