Life Without Father

Inmates on Texas' Death Row leave behind immeasurable pain and countless victims--including their own families

And though she adamantly opposes the death penalty, Tucker can understand the lingering anger of Foster's loved ones. She's been there. It was in 1985, in Carterville, Georgia, that her older brother, a truck driver with three small children, was shot in the back of the head and killed during a robbery. "I was 15 at the time," she remembers, "and I had a difficult time accepting the fact that someone had done that to my brother, to me, to our family." The suspect later turned himself in, pleaded guilty and served only a brief sentence.

"I was angry about that for a long time," she admits. Today, however, she finds comfort in the fact that the family of her brother's killer was spared the deathwatch she's lived with for a decade, and the nightmares that still occasionally wake her.


Last spring, when Davis' family traveled to Huntsville, they assumed it would be their final visit. "It was the most horrible day I've ever experienced," Tucker says. "We were all convinced it was the last time we would see Brian." Funeral arrangements had already been made. Even before they arrived, Davis had made it clear that he wanted none of them to remain and witness the moment he was placed on the Death House gurney and the needles inserted into his arm. "He told us that he didn't want that to be our last image of him," Jim Davis says.
Mark Graham
Life with Daddy: Brian Edward Davis spent a few brief years with his son, though T.J. Davis has no recollections of those days. Center snapshot: T.J. visits his father, a convicted killer, on Texas' Death Row.
Life with Daddy: Brian Edward Davis spent a few brief years with his son, though T.J. Davis has no recollections of those days. Center snapshot: T.J. visits his father, a convicted killer, on Texas' Death Row.

The stay of execution, however, only bought Brian Davis and his family a brief reprieve.

Three months later, as the second execution date approached, T.J. stood in the kitchen one evening as his mother prepared dinner. "Do you think it is really going to happen this time?" he asked.

"I didn't know what to tell him," Tracy Tucker recalls.

And so the ordeal continues. Too soon, Tucker fears, the day will come when her son will ask the question again.

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