Victim Forgives Death Row Inmate

Stroman sentenced to die in slaying of convenience store clerk after Sept. 11 attacks

A shooting victim says he wants the governor to spare the life of a man sentenced to die this week for a separate shooting in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Mark Stroman faces lethal injection Wednesday for a slaying during a shooting spree. At the time, he said he was seeking revenge on people of Middle Eastern descent.

Stroman, 41, told his lawyers he was a white supremacist and testified the federal government hadn't done its job after the terrorist attacks so he was going to do it for them.

He was convicted of killing Vasudev Patel at a convenience store in Mesquite in October 2001.

Patel, a naturalized U.S. citizen from India, was identified as one of three people shot by Stroman -- two of them fatally.

In recent years, Stroman has asked for and received forgiveness from one victim's family and from one survivor.

Rais Bhuiyan identified Stroman in court as the man who shot him in the eye one week after Waqar Hasan was shot and killed at another convenience store.

Hasan, a Pakistani immigrant, was killed four days after Sept. 11 at a Dallas convenience store. Stroman was charged but not tried in Hasan's slaying.

Bhuiyan and Hasan's family, with the help of Southern Methodist University professor Rick Halperin, are leading the charge to convince Gov. Rick Perry to spare Stroman's life.

Bhuyian will head up a news conference Tuesday asking Perry for clemency in Stroman's case.

A federal appeals court in December denied Stroman's appeal of his capital murder conviction in Patel's slaying.

Hassan's widow, who follows the teachings of the Quran, says she has forgiven Stroman.

"He has written her a letter in which he apologizes for taking my brother-in-law's life," said Nadeem Akhtar. "As Wednesday approaches, it is very stressful for the family and for my sister. We wish for his sentence to be changed to life in prison rather than death."

Akhtar said the Quran says it is better to forgive than to look for revenge with an eye for an eye.

Halperin, a human rights expert, said Stroman is remorseful. Stroman has developed personal relationships of trust with Bhuiyan as well as Hassan's family, he said.

"He believes he is not going to survive past this Wednesday," Halperin said. "He knows he is not that bigot, that hatemonger, the terrible person that did these terrible crimes. Like anybody else, he doesn't want to die. He thinks he will, but he's at peace with himself."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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