That's the title of Cindy Horswell's report in today's Houston Chronicle. LINK
When Michael Eubanks was convicted of capital murder in 1978 and given a life sentence, his hair was as flaming red as his temper.
The 20-year-old from Houston got into prison fights daily. His first year he was even thrown into solitary confinement for organizing what officials called a mutiny.
After all, he never expected to make it out of prison alive. Nobody cared what happened to him. He didn't know his birth parents and had burned bridges with his adopted ones. He saw his chances for parole as “slim to none.”
Yet, after three decades in a 6-foot-by-9-foot cell, he felt he had mellowed like his strawberry-blond hair.
He's now 52. He earned a college degree behind bars and became a master leather craftsman.
Still, since becoming eligible for parole in 1997, Eubanks' application had been rejected five times. In Texas, parole for capital murder is next to impossible. Again he pensively waited this summer to learn his fate. He didn't feel anything like the person who made prison his home, never expecting to rejoin society.
He had barely squeaked past with the necessary five of seven votes from the state's parole board. Harris County prosecutors sent a letter of protest based on the “sheer brutality of the crime.”
Family members of his murder victim could not be reached for comment, but the Houston mayor's crime victim advocate, Andy Khan, found Eubanks' release “surreal,” believing anyone committing such an insidious act should remain imprisoned until he dies. In the past 14 years, nearly 2,000 capital murderers serving life sentences have been eligible for parole in Texas, but only 3 percent made it, records show.
The granting of Eubanks' parole was his first surprise.
One of his Christian exit courses was taught by former district Attorney Carol Vance, who was not only the namesake of the Sugar Land unit but also a prosecutor who helped send Eubanks to prison.
“I recognized him the moment he walked in the room,” Eubanks said. “I once hated him with a passion, but now I admire him.”
Although Vance said he's been conned before, he said he would trust Eubanks as his next-door neighbor.
Upon his release, he moved to the Isaiah House, a halfway house in northeast Houston. He landed a job quickly, working as sales manager for an electric sign company.
However, the most amazing development has been finding his biological family.