Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Never Forgetting Steven Hardin

Every now and then, I don't take the freeway home from work, but try to explore the many interesting neighborhoods between IAH (near where I work) and Memorial City (near where I live). If you go more-or-less straight south from my office, you end up on Gloger Street, and where the ends of Gloger and Mt. Houston meet, you see this sign.

gloger sign from the north

It looks the same from the back.

gloger sign from south

Then as you go down Hartley, you see the same basic sign affixed to a chain-link fence.

sign by house

This is apparently the home of William Hardin. And his son was indeed murdered by a firefighter named Barry Crawford.
In April, some of Crawford's neighbors in his Humble trailer park complained that he was hogging parking spots. He was warned that his truck would be towed, and on April 17, Steven Hardin tried to do that.
Crawford, a veteran Houston firefighter, left his house with a loaded rifle and tried to get Hardin to release his truck. He testified that he kicked Hardin in the face to try to get him to stop.

The confrontation escalated when Crawford pointed the weapon at Hardin. Witnesses said Hardin grabbed a nearby shovel, and Crawford shot him in the chest.
Crawford claimed self-defense. But the jury said it was murder, and prosecutor Kelly Siegler asked for a minimum 25-year sentence.
"Do you really think probation is punishment?" she asked the jury during the punishment phase of the trial. "Probation for a murderer like this is a joke."
But that's what the jury gave Crawford. (Stephanie A. Sin, Houston Chronicle, October 10, 1998) 
Ten years probation. The judge was Ted Poe (now a Republican Congressman), and he added additional conditions to the probation (which had been decided by the jury). Poe required Crawford to put flowers on Hardin's grave every year, and every year Crawford had to spend two days parading with a sign saying that he had murdered a fellow citizen. And most important, he had to pay $412 a month in restitution to Hardin's widow and children.
But in the case of the court-ordered restitution and child support, family members say more than $12,000 is owed to them that has not been paid. This family plans to go to court to try to get the matter settled. (13 Eyewitness News, Cynthia Cisneros, June 16, 2009)
Hardin's sister remembers her brother on a website dedicated to his memory.
I miss my brother very much!  He was my best friend and would call me several times a day just to chat.Oh, how I wish that when the phone rings, it could be Steven on the other end of the line. Just saying, Hey, T, what are you doing? Oh, what I would give to hear his voice just one more time!  To see his smile one last time! Just to hug him and say I LOVE YOU - ONE LAST TIME!
The idea of my car getting towed fills me with anger. I remember a comic by Scott Gilbert where he fantasized about burning his car rather than letting a tow-truck take it. I could relate. But we're civilized people. We don't kill someone because we're mad at him, mad at what he's doing. Crawford stepped outside the bounds of civilization and should have paid a heavier price.

Funny what you stumble across when you drive around Houston.

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Blogger Bob Fingerman said...

That's a very sad story. Was Crawford given this sweetheart deal because he was a former fireman? Some kind of retroactive immunity based on service to the community?

8:51 PM  
Blogger  Robert Boyd said...

I don't know... They found him guilty, but the jury determined the sentence. Maybe they felt there was just enough doubt that they couldn't send him to prison. The prosecutor, Kelly Siegler, clearly fumbled the ball on this. (Funny--that prosecutor's office is now more known for putting innocent people in jail than failing to convict guilty ones.) She ran for DA last year and got trounced, thank god. I really knew nothing about the story until I saw the sign, went home, and googled it.

Old man Hardin can't do much about what happened, but at least he can make sure that folks in his neighborhood never forget.

9:46 PM  

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