BROTHER of murder victim says he feels hurt and confused

Saturday, July 14th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ The brother of a man who was shot, stabbed and burned by a Mexican national says officials have not sought input from the family about efforts to stop the inmate's execution.

``The governor is a busy person,'' said Sammy Barron, whose brother Juan Barron was killed by Gerardo Valdez in 1989. ``He is taking the time to talk with their (Valdez) attorneys and the attorney general and to listen to the (Mexican) president.

``Well, that is fine and dandy. None of those people are the ones going through what we are going through. My family, we are the one's getting neglected. We are not getting our input heard,'' Barron told the Tulsa World for Saturday editions.

Gov. Frank Keating issued a 30-day stay of Valdez's June 19 execution to consider whether grant a recommended commutation of Valdez's death sentence to life without the possibility of parole.

Clemency supporters argue that Valdez was not told when arrested that he had the right to seek assistance from the Mexican consulate as guaranteed by Article 36 of the Vienna Convention. Had Valdez sought and received assistance, the jury would not have imposed the death penalty, they say.

Keating delayed Valdez's execution after speaking by telephone with Mexican President Vincente Fox. He has also spoken with Mexican officials and Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson.

Sammy Barron said he has spoken with a representative from Keating's office, but not the governor. Judy Terry, the governor's chief legal counsel on the case, has talked with Barron on more than one occasion, said Phil Bacharach, a Keating spokesman.

Because Barron has spoken to Terry, it would not be necessary at this point for him to meet with Keating, Bacharach said.

``The governor has spoken to everyone who can provide input on the legal issue and the impact of the Vienna Convention,'' Bacharach said.

Sammy Barron said he wants Keating to know he is hurt, confused and feels somewhat abandoned.

``He is listening to the President of Mexico versus his own people here,'' Sammy Barron said. ``We should be the first and main concern.''

He said the Vienna Convention was designed to protect law-abiding citizens, not murderers.

``I don't want my brother's life to get thrown into some kind of political circus,'' Sammy Barron said. ``I want for the person that murdered him to pay for what he has done.''

In 1989, Valdez took Barron home from an Anadarko bar. He explained to Barron why he thought homosexuality was wrong based on the Bible's teachings.

Valdez then beat Barron, made him strip, shot him twice in the head and stabbed him in the neck. He burned Barron's body in the back yard.

``The murder of Juan Barron was one of the most heinous we have heard of,'' Bacharach said. ``The issue for the governor is not necessarily the matter of the severity of it.''

Bacharach said the issue is if the violation of the Vienna Convention would have affected the sentencing phase of the trial. He noted that Keating is a staunch supporter of the death penalty.

The murder has been described as a hate crime. Sammy Barron said he did not know if his brother was gay, but that his sexual orientation is irrelevant.

``He would be the only person that could answer that,'' Sammy Barron said. ``People can live different lives. From the side of myself and my family, no, he wasn't.''

Keating is expected to announce his decision next week.