I normally don’t take on Texas cases. With the death threats I often receive, it’s too dangerous. To a crazy, vengeful Texan, my extreme distance and isolation is no insulation at all.
But Austin Eversole has gotten past my defenses. I cannot ignore his pleadings for help and support just because he is from my home state. There is something about this kid that I like. I guess that it is his capacity for generosity, even though he is himself in desperate need. He believes that his story can help break the cycle of abuse for others. I like that.
I have gotten him a couple interviews in the international media already. I have included him in my will so he can be a part of Estella Vista when he is released (he liked that, as his own grandmother had disinherited him from his family’s ranch). But it is now time for me to jump in with both feet… so we will see where this goes.
In his own words:
My name is Austin Dylan Eversole. I am 20 years old. I’m serving a 40-year sentence for a patricide case in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Correctional Institutions Division. I was abused emotionally, physically, and covertly sexually by my father, Danny Eversole. I was 15 when I shot him, and I was in fear for my life when it happened. The abuse was not a one-time incident. It was a daily routine for me.
The abuse began before I was even born. In my mother’s (Pamela Eversole) first trimester of her pregnancy with me, my dad injured her so badly she got kidney damage. He abused her as well. She had to undergo treatment to save my life. My grandmother drove her to the hospital that day. From that time until my premature birth, my mom had to have monthly sonograms to see if I’d died. My birth was through an unplanned C-section, and I was an underdeveloped infant–all because of my dad.
At six years old I received a psychological evaluation from Dr. Ronald Palomoras. This is the age I remember the abuse starting. I have this evaluation in my possession. It notes my underdeveloped state and that I “met or exceeded state and federal eligibility requirements for a serious emotionally handicapping condition.” I was also diagnosed with Battered Child Syndrome, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
From the very beginning of my life, I was torn between loving a monster who wanted to kill me and my mom, and a mother who was emotionally, financially, and physically inept and unable to care for me.
My dad often ostracized me, telling me that if I really loved him I would kill my mom. This was quite a tall order for a six-year-old. This same year, my dad took me and my mom to the beach in Galveston. At one point he felt I was walking too closely to our dog, he cussed at me and yelled. Enraged, he jerked the rope that was acting as the dog’s leash. It clothes-lined me and slammed me into the salt water, injuring my neck. I had a very nasty rope brn on my neck, which my mom got pictures of. It also hurt our dog.
I was still a child when they divorced. It was a bitter ordeal in which both parents used me to get back at the other. But, dad always had a deep-rooted hatred for my mom. His martinet-style of degradation of mom and me created anxious fear inside me. He beat her regularly. My brothers, who never saw this side of him, refuse to believe this. Dad always made threats directly to mom or to me that were directed at her. I lived in constant fear and worry that he would one day kill either me or mom, or both.
He told me something I will never forget: “Can’t wait until your wh-re of a mother is in the hospital. Then I can pull her plug and be happy. And, once she’s buried, I’m going to take a sh-t on the b-itch’s grave–and you’re going to watch.” It would always make me cry when he’d say things like this, but he seemed to enjoy seeing me hurt. I’d ask him to stop, but he’d keep on getting more vulgar as he went. He would call her the most vulgar and humiliating names I’ve heard. Eventually, he started calling me the same or similar names.
Around this time the abuse progressed. My mother got a restraining order against my dad, and custody of me. It worked for a while because things seemed to calm down for a while. Even so, I still had the problem of a mom who could not care for me or give me any meaningful attention. Then, when I was twelve, she was arrested on drug charges and I was ordered to go live with my dad.
Life was tolerable at first. My dad had $90,000 from a fraudulent insurance claim, so most of my material needs were met. Underneath his actions I could sense that he had strong resentment against me for siding with my mom. Once the money ran out (which didn’t take long), he returned to his old ways. He made me feel responsible for him on every level. I had to cook and prepare his meals to perfection, wash his dirty laundry, file his paperwork, do exhaustive computer research for his use at work, keep our huge lawn in a perfectly manicured state, maintain the pool and jacuzzi, care for our dog (who was terrified of him) walk to and from school, and do my own homework. It was inexcusable to bring home a failing grade.
It was inevitable that I’d make a mistake somewhere along the way. When I failed to care for him to his standards, the consequences were unforgiving. He was much bigger than me, and it scared me when he’d stoop and scream in my face. He’d charge after me and use force to make me correct whatever mistakes I’d made, calling me names the whole time. It felt dirty inside, in the sense that he was treating me like a spouse. Sometimes, when my friends or family members were there visiting, I would be stand-offish with him because he would not touch me in front of them. I’d usually pay dearly, though, when they left. My dad constantly played mind games with me. Learning to play them back was a means of survival.
My dad often removed his pants and spread open his buttocks and but it close to my face. He’d forcibly compel me to describe to him, in detail, what his anus looked like. When I had friends over, my dad would tell us how long his penis was as compared to a tape measure. He also had an odd habit of habitually urinating in the kitchen sink. Until I was 14 years old, my dad made me get down to my underwear and sleep in bed with him.
When my dad saw that the mind games weren’t working, he would resort to more physical abuse. He would slap me really hard, shove me to the ground or into the wall, and punch me as one would punch a grown person. He even became fond of kicking me. Eventually, he was unable to hide the hatred he had for me and he began trying to cut me with box cutters and knives. He made promising threats to kill me. At least one person witnessed this and wrote a sworn affidavit (I till have a copy of it). But the court never heard it when I was being tried.
During a 3½-year period he only saw my mom once. It was at a hardware store, and my dad said he wished he’d seen her in the parking lot, so he could have choked her. I am thankful mom never came to our house, because I didn’t want to see him beat her like when they were married. I missed her, though, and it made it worse knowing that dad would beat me if I went to her for help.
My half-brothers, who continue to insist that my dad was never abusive toward me, did not live with us. They visited on occasion, but my dad was always on his best behavior when they were around. It was always so frustrating that he would act like the perfect dad in public and around others, then turn into such a monster when no one was looking. Rarely he’d slip, though, and his true side would emerge.
The abuse escalated to the point I was in constant fear for my life. I didn’t feel safe with him at all. So, to feel secure, I asked several friends, at different intervals, to stay with me at my house. There was no way my dad would allow this, so they had to sneak over and stay in my closet. I’d bring them food, drinks, or whatever else they needed. It helped me out tremendously. For some reason, my attorney would not allow any of these friends to be subpoenaed to tell the truth.
My dad became psychotically obsessed with making death threats against me. The last time I saw him he was 8 inches taller than me and 170 pounds heavier. On the day I shot him, he had been in an uncontrollable rage most of the day. He was throwing things, yelling, cussing, kicking things, and acting violently unpredictable. I was terrified. At some point he charged after me and forcefully shoved me to the ground. Then with a cold resolve he told me he was about to beat me the way he beat my mom. I still believe, with every fiber of my being, that he was about to end my life.
I ask for your help. I want the truth about my case to come out. I have nothing to hide. I live with indescribable pain and confusing guilt. I have terrible regret and remorse. I did not set forth for this to happen, and that’s the part of my story that never got told. People didn’t believe I was being abused at first, and then when it became clear, they turned away.
Abuse like this is rampant across our country, and especially so in Texas. My story could give someone courage to come forth and stop a bad situation before some other kid is sent to prison–like I was.
Getting his story out is the only thing that Austin has asked of us… not money, or an appeal, or any other extraordinary thing. We will certainly do that–but we should do more.
As part of his plea agreement, Austin signed away his right to appeal. But Paul Henry Gingerich did that, too, and we ignored that and got his unfair sentence vacated. Maybe the same is possible here.
In the light of this story, it seems inconceivable that Austin’s lawyer failed to enter evidence of the sexual abuse into his trial. It was certainly material to the murder. It seems to me that Austin was deprived of effective counsel.
Here are further key facts concerning this case.
Date of the murder: March 8, 2009
Location of the murder: Red Oak, TX
Victim of the murder: Danny Eversole, 57
Plea: 16-year-old Austin Eversole accepted a plea agreement on five charges–guilty to the shooting death of his father, for which he accepted a 40-year sentence. Austin also pleaded guilty to solicitation to commit capital murder (40 years), burglary of a habitation (20 years), theft of a firearm (730 days) and theft (730 days), with all sentences to run concurrently. He will remain in prison a minimum 20 years because statutory guidelines indicate he must serve at least one-half of the murder and solicitation sentences before he is eligible for parole. With the plea agreement, Austin waived his right to appeal.
Austin was 15 at the time of the incident at the family home. Testimony during the juvenile hearings indicated Danny Eversole was shot four times, with police later determining the pistol used was one of two taken from a house where one of Austin’s friends resided. Three cameras also went missing from Red Oak High School several days before the fatal incident and those cameras were found in a vehicle driven by Austin to a friend’s house after the shooting, according to the testimony. Other evidence introduced in juvenile court included the teen’s own statement to police and a voice recording between the teen and a friend that relates to the criminal solicitation charge.
Austin’s juvenile attorney called witnesses who testified the elder Eversole had verbally, mentally and physically abused his son and argued that the teen would be better served in the juvenile system. The case was subsequently transferred from juvenile court to adult felony court.
Court: 40th District Court, Judge Gene Knize presiding
Defense Attorney (court-appointed): Charles Slaton
District Attorney: Joe Grubbs
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