Pamela Perillo writes about Bettie Beets...

                                   Bettie            Karla           Pam         Frances
                                                       (Photo taken 1995)

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                "My Best Friend"

It's so hard to believe it's been two years since the State of Texas killed my friend Karla Faye Tucker, it seems like just yesterday when I was looking into those big brown eyes so full of life, and seeing that smile of hers that could light up a room.

I met Karla in 1984 in the Houston Co. Jail when she was first incarcerated. I was back at the Co. jail for a new trail after my case was over-turned by the court. I had already been on death row since 1980
One of the officers asked me if I would go to talk with a young girl the State was seeking death on. I said I would, and when I got there it was Karla. I stayed in the Houston Jail for 22 months, and 19 of them with Karla, she was given death, and I got death again.

We both came to T.D.C.J. a few months apart. And we lived together on death row for 14 1/2
years. We grew up in here together, we went through many good times together, as well as many bad times. She has been a part of everything in my life, as I have hers.

I've been in and out of jails and foster homes all my life, this is really the only life I've known.
I came in here knowing no responsibility at all.   I never had a Social Security number, or a drivers license. I never had to pay bills or write a check. I had a very low self esteem, and felt inadequate and insecure in many areas of my life.

Karla helped me get my G.E.D. we took college courses through correspondence at Sam Houston College. She always made me feel that I could do anything I set my mind to do,
and she was always right there to help if I needed ti.

I've never known anyone in my life who showed me what real friendship is like Karla did.
And I'm a better person today from knowing her.

I miss all the times we shared, I even miss the tears we wiped from each others eyes. I've never known a person so full of life and love as Karla was, she went nonstop. A part of me died with Karla Feb. 3rd. two years ago.  I Still today am trying to deal with the anger and hate I was left with in my heart. France and I was given a visit with Karla a few days before they killed her. We were told we couldn't "Cry", "Talk about death" or "Say good-bye."
We "Cried", "Talked about death" and said our "Good-byes".

What people don't understand is we live with what we did or didn't do and what we face everyday, and not talking about it is not going to make it go away. There is three things I've known since I've been here these last 20 years. I've known real love from a mother - thank you Christina. I've known how it feels to be a mother - I love you Joseph- And I've known real friendship - I miss you Karla.

At a Lifelines Conference in London October 23, 1999, Sister Helen PreJean told the people at the Conference that "Human beings are capable of redemption and change. When people in Texas saw and heard Karla Faye Tucker, support for the death penalty dropped 48% in Texas. It is easy to kill a monster but very hard to kill a human being. They could see Karla had changed. Yes she had committed a terrible crime, but over time she had moved beyond that act into a fully loving human being." People saw that in Karla.

I believe the politicians in Texas don't want the people to see that human side of another person on death row. It may take away from the power they have and people will see them for the killers they are. After all the elections are going on right now, and its a game of win or lose, and we all know no one likes to lose.

They moved Bettie Lou Beets over on the other side in a hall and cell by her self with a execution date set for Feb. 3ed, 2000. Knowing setting a date 30 days away is not going to give her much time to get help and fight for her life. And I feel that was the whole reason for pushing this through so fast. They don't want the people in Texas to see another human face. After all this is a 62 year old grandmother, with a very sweet smile. Remember this is the time for elections and no one wants to make Governor Bush look bad again by seeing he is about to kill Bettie Beets. Bettie has been on death row 14 years and been a model inmate.

Bettie came from a very poor family in North Carolina. She had the measles at a very young age and lost almost all of her hearing from the fever. When she started school she was hearing impaired and learning disabled. The only way Bettie could understand what people were saying to her was to watch their mouths, and taught herself to read lips.

She was married at the age of 15, and was married for 18 years before her husband walked out on her and their 6 children. She was 31 years old at the time and had to learn to care for herself as well as her children, which was hard for Bettie because she had no schooling or skills to fall back on.

When Bettie was 40 years old a friend of hers gave her a hearing aid for each of her ears for Christmas. This opened a whole new world for Bettie. Now she was able to hear water running, the wind and rain, birds singing and a clock tic, things she never heard before.

When Bettie got new attorneys, and they had a team of doctors run test on her they found out how devastating not hearing had really ruled her life all those years. She found out just how vulnerable she was to men in her life. Men who abused and hurt her, beat her, and many times left her for dead. Knowing this helped Bettie see Why alot of things happened in her life she was never able to understand before. But it also left her with more questions, and she needed answers more then ever now.

Her answers and healing came through her love and trust in God, and He is still helping Bettie understand why alot of things happened in her life that she had no control over at the time.

Bettie is a reflection of alot of you people out there who have gone through alot of the same things she went through, and you may still be going through them right now. When you go look in the mirror you could be seeing her face along with your own.

How can the State of Texas kill someone who has cried out for help all her life, they are still turning their backs to her cries.

Executing people has became a joke in this society we live in, people make fun of it. They did a interview with a inmate in Huntsville who has volunteered to make all the last meals for all the condemned people in the State of Texas. He says he is going to write the Guinness book of records for the man who has made the most last meals for condemned people. He is even writing a book and naming his meals after the men and women who ate them on death row. He thinks all this is funny and a joke, this man who in in T.D.C.J. for raping a helpless woman. And the people who let him make a joke out of his job is just as sick as he is, do you really think you are any better then any of the rest of us? Most of the  people you are killing go to their deaths sorry for the pain and hurt they caused. You people put a needle in our arms with a smile on your face, and a joke to make. You may not think much of us, but our families have done nothing to you.

They say capital Punishment is a deterrent to crime, but it's not. Its revenge you can see that by the things that are said when they let the victims families watch us be put to death. One man said it was the best 10 mins. he ever spent in his life. Another says he wanted to watch them fry. Its all very sick if you ask me, and its all very wrong.  Please help us stop all the killing now.

No one wants to look at the fact that when it is all turned into a game of win or lose, or its all made into a joke, they are holding people lives in their hands, and our wrongs don't make yours right. Please write and help us stop them from killing Bettie Beets and others on death row.
                                                                                                                -    Pamela Perillo

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This page was last updated May 21, 2001       Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty          This page is maintained and updated by Dave Parkinson and Tracy Lamourie