My Book World
Full disclosure: I won this Kindle version of Crawford’s book by way of a goodreads.com giveaway. I am providing this review because I do believe it is a narrative worth reading.
This brief book is reminiscent of absorbing feature articles I’ve read in Texas Monthly—stories of true crime set in the Lone Star State. As a gay man who has lived in Texas for over fifty years, I felt drawn to this case I’d never heard of before. Woodruff is a nineteen-year-old boy charged with murdering his parents in their home. Crawford displays a fine grasp of the tenuous legal situation for gays in Texas, and he sets up the facts of the case for readers to see that Brandon Woodruff is wrongly prosecuted and convicted. At the very least the teen should be given a fair trial.
Throughout the book Crawford makes clear, among others, certain facts. A Texas Ranger from Austin is assigned the case, rather than a local or regional official. This Ranger conducts a smear campaign against Brandon because of his participation in a gay social life and for appearing in legitimate pornographic movies, “evidence” that has nothing to do with the case but which prejudices the jury. The Ranger also fails to take advantage of information that does exist, for one, cell phone records that would indicate Brandon is not anywhere near the location at the time of the murders. By such evidence alone, he could not possibly have committed the murders. While some guilty parties never show any emotion when hearing the news of loved one’s murders, reliable witnesses testify that Brandon loves his parents, particularly his father, who has a sympathetic view of his son’s homosexuality—and he is beset with grief from the beginning. Brandon’s sister, who is more temperamentally bent toward anger and violence against their parents than Brandon, is never fully investigated. What about her whereabouts on the night of the murder? Her phone records? A party or parties who might have committed the murders on her behalf? One suspect, an ex-friend of Brandon’s who is vehemently homophobic, lies to Ranger Collins, and Collins conveniently never puts the ex-buddy on the stand at the trial. The Texas Ranger takes the easy way out all around, and Brandon Woodruff, now nearing age thirty-six, still remains in prison, a long life-term ahead of him.
If readers want to help Brandon Woodruff’s cause, they can go to the website freebrandon.org to donate and/or sign a petition to be sent to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. This is a wrong that must be righted and soon. Thanks to Phillip Crawford, Jr. for documenting this case in such a decisive manner.
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