Before he landed in a cell on death row in Texas, Mark Stroman was a typical lowlife. He drank too much, used too many drugs, and became increasingly biased and vocal in his opinions. The amazing thing is that someone or some group didn't murder him before he murdered two Muslims. The third he attacked Raisuddin Bhuiyan survived. And became one of the many advocates who lobbied courts of law and of public opinion to save Stroman's life.
Stroman's true story is captured in the 2014 book "The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas" by Anand Giridharadas. Here is an excerpt.
The platform for becoming a celebrity was put in place by a confluence of forces. One was Stroman's own emerging gift for words. Another was the interest of a flim maker doing a documentary on hate. Yet another was groups around the world who, for whatever reason, make it their mission to become pen pals with those on death row. There are organizations which link the two.
But the most important driver was Stroman's seeming internal paradigm shift from a thug to a man with could develop a moral sense of right and wrong. His sisters claimed that transformation was a con. If it was, it was well orchestrated. Because he could forgive himself others seemed ready to forgive him.
Skilled at positioning and packaging, Stroman described to the world everyday life on death row. That fascinated, especially details about when an inmate was taken to the execution chamber. Stroman even created a blog.
With Rick Perry as governor, it was no surprise that Stroman was among those who did make that journey to the gurney, which he had had so many nightmares about. Had his sentence been changed to life in prison, he would have continued to be a rock star. Likely one of his pen pals would have pulled off marrying him.