Nine Years After Hate Murder, Henry Dunn Scheduled to be Executed - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

02/05/03 - Tyler

Nine Years After Hate Murder, Henry Dunn Scheduled to be Executed

   November 30, 1993.

   What happened in Bergfeld Park that cool night sent a chill through the city, the focus of a nation on East Texas, and life for many was changed forever. It was in Bergfeld Park that 23-year-old Nicholas West was taken, against his will, at the point of a gun. Robbery appeared to be a motive, but it became clear that Donald Aldrich, David McMillan, and Henry Dunn targeted him because he was gay. Dunn admitted to just that when he confessed to murder.

   The three took West out to a gravel pit in a rural part of Noonday. Nicholas was terrified. The three made him take off his pants. But, they said he wouldn't get hurt. Dunn and Aldrich had pistols. David McMillan had a .410 shotgun.

   Dunn told police officers: "When I turned around, I don't know which one of the two shot first."

   No one knows who was the first to pull the trigger, but all then started shooting.

   Nicholas was shot at least eight times, but was still alive. He asked why they were shooting him.

   District Attorney Jack Skeen: "After Nicholas West, the victim, had gone down to the ground and was laying on the ground, Dunn stepped up and took a .357 pistol against his head and fired a point blank head shot."

   Then Dunn, Aldrich and McMillan left him in that pit in Noonday.

   The jury had little trouble finding Henry Dunn guilty or giving him death. The confession sealed his fate, but the story of Nicholas West didn't end when Dunn was sent to Death Row.

   Former KLTV reporter Rebecca Mullens-Berkley: "The community was completely in shock over the brutality of the crime. But they were surprised to learn why the victim was targeted. And most people here in East Texas didn't want to believe that we had a gay community."

   Bergfeld Park was the scene of rallies for gay rights, and protests against. Mullens-Berkley covered the story of Nicholas and of many gay East Texans who said this must never happen to anyone ever again.

   "There were media there from all over the country, and they put themselves on camera and showed they were gay, and a lot of them had never done that before. But they felt it was something they needed to do to show for support and show they were not going to stand by and let this happen again," she says.

   After nine years on death row, Henry Dunn says he should have never been there that night holding a gun, but that no one deserves to die.

   Dunn says, "You know executing me is not going to bring him back."

   Thursday night at 6 p.m. Morgan Palmer's interview with Henry Dunn. You'll hear what Dunn has to say about the crime, the victim, and escape attempt from death row, and life on the inside.

   Dunn: "If you ask me to put faith in myself or faith in the system, I'll put faith in myself." 
 
   Morgan Palmer, reporting.

 

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