A missed Chron eye opportunity?

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KPRC-2 beat the Chronicle to the punch on a potential Chron Eye today:

A retrial began Monday for a man convicted of shooting four people, killing three of them, at a northwest Houston bowling alley more than 25 years ago, KPRC Local 2 reported.

Max Soffar, 49, was 24 years old when authorities said he confessed to the robbery and shooting at the Fair Lanes Bowling Alley, located on Highway 290. A lawyer was not present when Soffar made the confession, which came after three days of intense interrogation.

The victims were Arden Alane Felsher, 17; Tommy Lee Temple, 17; and Stephen Allen Sims, 25. Greg Garner was the only shooting victim who survived. However, he could not positively identify Soffar as the shooter.

“You figure an 18-year-old kid with a gun sticking in his face, and you know he’s scared to death, and after he gets shot, who’s he going to identify?” Garner’s father, Ira Garner, said.

Greg Garner, who was an employee at the bowling ally, is disfigured from a gunshot wound to the back of his head.

Soffar has been on death row since 1981. An appeals court panel with the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned his conviction in December 2000 after determining his rights had been violated because an attorney was not present during his confession. The full court reinstated the conviction in September 2001.

The same court ordered a new trial for Soffar in 2005 after judges decided that his lawyer, Joe Cannon, failed to represent him effectively during his first trial.

Soffar’s supporters include David Dow, Kinky Friedman, and Kathryn Kase (the wife of the Chronicle‘s editor).

RELATED COVERAGE: KHOU-11.

UPDATE (02-07-2006): The Chronicle‘s coverage appears today, and includes a photo of Kathryn Kase conferring with the defendant.


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