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About People of the Heart
People of the Heart is a non-profit organization founded by its president, Barbara A. Taft, on August 9, 1996, the day of Lacresha Murray’s first conviction in the death of Jayla Belton, and spearheaded the very vocal effort to rouse the community in demanding a new trial. Formerly a legal secretary with almost 30 years experience in different legal disciplines, Barbara Taft had worked for almost seven years as a legal secretary for Mary Dietz, a Fulbright & Jaworski, L.L.P. partner and wife of Judge John K. Dietz, who sat on this case. She has extensive marketing and public relations skills, as well.
Responding to a picture of Lacresha Murray, which appeared in the Austin American Statesman before a conviction, Barbara and her husband, Abraham Davidson, organized a three-day protest on the steps of the Travis County Courthouse. After the conviction of Lacresha, Barbara appeared on a number of talk shows on radio and T.V. to drum up community support for a new trial.
It began with a protest against charging an 11-year old with capital murder, and continues in the conviction that the Austin Police Department, the District Attorneys Office, and Judge John K. Dietz acted in concert to maintain the status quo, to back up Ronnie Earle, the District Attorney in his groundless, hasty and ill advised assertion that Lacresha Murray was guilty of capital murder, and to head off any possible lawsuit.
All donations to People of the Heart have been used to educate and solicit the assistance of the public, the media, attorneys and interested organizations to reverse the travesty that occurred and is occurring here in Texas. Donations have also been used for the weekend visits by the Murray family to Lacresha, who is currently incarcerated at Giddings State Home, in Giddings, Texas. Donations are deposited in the People of the Heart Account at Bank One Texas and withdrawals are made by check, signed by Barbara A. Taft. People of the Heart is a strictly volunteer organization.
On the Board of People of the Heart, along with Barbara A. Taft, are Abraham Davidson, her husband, with a background in business and counseling; Susan Butz, Vice President and Secretary, also with an extensive legal background; Rev. Marvin D. Steinmetz, minister; and Charlene D. Harris.
Presently, People of the Heart is urgently campaigning to raise a minimum of $20,000 specifically targeted for the immediate filing of several new lawsuits, including amending the current appeal. In the past, Lacresha Murray has been ineffectively represented by State appointed attorneys. We have hired a new attorney, recommended by a friend in Scotland, an attorney, who for the first time believes he can win, an attorney with the experience, the intelligence, the spirit and the guts to do what must be done to win.
Although we plan to continue the family visits, most money donated at this time will be used to pay legal expenses in filing these lawsuits. People of the Heart will work tirelessly to see that the money is there for the defense of this innocent child and ultimately the defense of all children in the justice system. This case sets precedent in Texas and in the United States.
This conviction must not stand!
Please send your contributions to
People of the Heart,
P. O. Box 2585
Cedar Park, Texas 78630
Call us at (512) 707-3743 for more information.