From time to time we publish letters from death row inmates. Today, Texas death row inmate Travis Runnels writes to us with a remembrance of his friend and fellow inmate, Ray Jasper, who was executed by the state of Texas.
Unlike most of our letters from death row inmates, we did not solicit this one. Travis Runnels wrote of us of his own volition to share his memories of Ray Jasper. Runnels was sentenced to death in 2005 after pleading guilty to the 2003 killing of Stanley Wiley, who was a supervisor at the Texas prison where Runnels was serving a 70-year sentence for aggravated robbery. His letter is below.
Dear Mr. Nolan,
This letter I send to you is in response to the letter from Ray Jasper. A friend of mine knew me and Ray-Ray were associates so she downloaded the letter and mailed it to me. Now that his state sanctioned murder has been carried out I feel its my duty to expound upon his letter due to the extraordinary person he was. Don't get me wrong he had flaws just as every other person does, but he consciously applied himself to not let his flaws nor his incarceration define who he was or how he look at what he was capable of accomplishing.
The first time I met him and we had a conversation I was impressed with his speech and his ability to articulate. At first I was a bit skeptical because I've met many slick talkers who don't actively apply to their own life or actions the information they are sharing. As the days went by and he started sharing books with me to read on self help, money management, investments, how to run a business and books on self reflection. Then he explained to me all the books he reads are directing him towards his goals and a more productive mind state. At that point that's when I understood he knows what he wants out of himself and life and he's doing what's necessary to reach that point. I admired his strength not to be tempted by action and thriller best seller novels because these I enjoyed reading since it helped me cope with the isolation. But I took the time to study the books he sent me and my education expanded and my growth progressed.
You could ask guards or prisoners about Ray-Ray and they will all say he was quiet and didn't talk to everybody or a lot of people. This he explained to me one day. The people you interact/ socialize with or either pushing you towards your goals or away from them. So frivolous socializing about nonsense or negativity was time wasted for our situation with the possibility of execution looming. The state did not execute a man named Ray Jasper, they killed a man who had the potential to impact lives. The world lost an asset. I pray his daughter can carry on in honor of her father who lead not by words but his actions despite all the negativity surrounding him.
Thank you for your time Mr. Nolan and I hope my thoughts can give your readers more insight on who Ray-Ray was, since thats what we called him.
Travis Runnels 999505
[Photo via Getty]