Texas gubernatorial candidate testifies in death penalty case
Feb 28, 9:08 PM EST
Texas gubernatorial candidate testifies in death
HOUSTON (AP) -- Independent gubernatorial candidate
Kinky Friedman testified Tuesday on behalf of a man
convicted of killing three people during a robbery at
a Houston bowling alley.
Friedman testified during the punishment phase of Max
Soffar's trial that the defendant should not be
executed and questioned the evidence used to convict
"I've seen the problems with the lawyers. Everybody's
dead. All the witnesses are dead. Tthere's no evidence
against him," he said. "And I can't even believe he
was brought to trial in the first place."
Friedman, a musician-turned-mystery
author-turned-politician, said his court appearance
had nothing to do with his run for governor. Known for
his trademark black cowboy hat and cigar, Friedman
needs to collect more than 45,000 signatures after the
March 7 primaries to be placed on the November ballot.
Soffar, 50, was sent to death row for the 1980
killings of Arden Alane Felsher, 17; Stephen Allen
Sims, 25; and Tommy Lee Temple, 17, at the Fair Lanes
Windfern Bowling Center. A fourth victim, Gregory
Garner, survived with permanent brain damage and lost
his left eye.
But a three-judge federal appeals court panel threw
out the conviction in 2004 after deciding Soffar
received ineffective legal representation.
A second jury convicted him last week of capital
A drug addict and sometime police informant who had
been in and out of mental institutions and reform
schools, Soffar confessed to the killings but later
Defense attorneys said the former truck driver and
ironworker had the mental capacity of a 10-year-old
when he confessed.
Friedman said he met Soffar while writing an article
for Texas Monthly magazine. He interviewed Soffar and
exchanged letters with him during his years on death
Although he used to support the death penalty,
Friedman told jurors he's now against it.
Testimony in the punishment phase ended shortly after
Friedman left the witness stand.