Before he died in the Texas execution chamber, the convicted murderer David Wayne Spence made sure his son understood what he wanted.
The result: Jason Spence has three goals in the petition he filed in District Court at Austin, Texas.
- He wants to clear his father’s name in the Lake Waco murders.
- He seeks closure in his grandmother’s murder; Juanita White’s death is an open case.
- He seeks money damages for the wrongful execution of his father.
An invited guest as his father’s execution in 1997, Jason Spence has experienced severe mental trauma in the years since then. “I’ve been in and out of psych wards,” he recalls.
Each day is a waking nightmare. Terrifying images flash through his mind. Sounds and sights recall painful memories, recollections freighted with horror. He has spent his entire adult life seeking relief from the trauma of his father’s execution, and his grandmother’s murder.
He suspects his brittle diabetic condition and chronic pancreatitis results from medical care.
Before the execution, the father and he agreed that they wanted his exoneration in the killing of three teenagers who had lived at Waco’s Metodist Home, sexual assaults and mutilation knife torture-killings he went to his death insisting he did not do.
Since that was unlikely, David Wayne Spence agreed the next best goal would be to seek redress in the courts, including money damages to provide for his children and grandchildren. He swore his son Jason, then 20, to that goal.
But it’s the evidence used to send his dad to the execution chamber that bothers him the most. His original problem was trying to figure out why he was in jail for something his father couldn’t really explain, even to himself. Jason Spence thinks his dad was killed due to political expediency. The local powers had to find a quick and plausible solution and David Wayne Spence looked just like what they were seeking, he says.
One of his greatest resentments is that the mainstream media misquoted his father’s final words as the lethal chemicals began to flow into his blood stream.
David Wayne Spence looked directly at his family and said, “I am not guilty of this crime. I am going home.”
His second greatest concern is that the case the elected District Attorney Vic Feazell made to two central Texas juries is lame enough to need crutches.
First of all, why didn’t the defendants just run in three different directions?
Secondly, how did they get to Speegleville Park across Lake Waco from where the prosecutor claimed they were killed, at a park on Lakeshore Drive?
And, then, where is the vehicle they were transported in? There is no physical evidence to prove they were transported in any of the vehicles the state theorized they rode in. No blood, hairs, fibers – nothing.
If Raylene Rice was the target of a murder for hire conspiracy, why wasn’t she killed first – alone? Why would his father agree to kill someone he did not know, a crime for which he had no motive?
The expert testimony about the bites on Jill Montgomery’s body has been discredited as junk science.
His saga really began when the former wife of Vic Feazell, Bernadette, contacted him with an offer of help. She visited eight law firms with track records for just the kind of litigation Jason and David Wayne Spence planned so long ago, in 1997. “Only one didn’t throw me out,” she recalled.
When he surveyed the petition prepared by the Jay English Law Firm of Dallas, he was shocked at the exculpatory evidence assembled for a judge’s inspection.
He blames Skip Reaves, who defended his father in a losing battle to avoid the death chamber, for the fact that DNA samples taken from Ms. Montgomery’s fingernails has never been tested to eliminate his father as a suspect. Reaves is heavily identified with the Innocence Project, which relies heavily on DNA tests to exonerate defendants falsely convicted in the past.
He says the judges involved in the case and Mr. Reaves are conspiring to keep the evidence from being transferred from the Ft. Worth Medical Examiner’s Office to the University of Texas Forensics lab.
Legal appeals of his dad’s lawyers fell on deaf ears when then Governor George W. Bush turned down a clemency petition seeking reprieve of his death sentence. He says he thinks the powers that be conspired to bring his execution on swiftly for the express purpose of preventing his exoneration any time soon.
Prior to his execution, David Wayne Spence cautioned his mother, Juanita White, not to turn over a letter she felt contained evidence that would convice a jury he was innocent.
She ignored his advice. Soon after she turned the letter over to Vic Feazell, says Jason Spence, his grandmother was found brutally murdered. Not long after the crime scene was released by the Waco Police, someone broke in the house and took away more of the documentation she had stored in records boxes.
A man later proven innocent served a long stretch in the penitentiary for her murder. Her case remains open.
He had a chilling vision of his grandmother standing in the doorway of her house in North Waco, a piece of paper in her hand.
In all the intervening years, that vision has never left the second sight acquired by Jason Spence that day in his childhood.
We do apologize for the poor quality of this audio file. In the final interview, the fidelity will be much improved. – Legendary
JASON SPENCE IN PROFILE, THE FIRST OF THREE INTERVIEWS ABOUT HOW HE LEARNED OF HIS DAD’S CASE AND THE EXECUTION OF DAVID WAYNE SPENCE, HIS FATHER…