Troy Clark. Picture: Smith County Jail
Troy Clark. Picture: Smith County Jail

Death row killer’s last poem

IN LESS than five days, a cocktail of drugs will flow through Troy Clark's veins, ending a 16-year stint on Texas' infamous death row.

But Clark, who was sentenced to death in 2002 over the brutal murder of his housemate Christina Muse, maintains - even on the eve of his execution - that he didn't do it.

The facts of the case, revealed in court documents, show the now 50-year-old attacked his victim on May 1, 1998, and rendered her helpless with the use of a stun gun applied to her neck.

He bound her legs, hands and mouth and dragged her into the kitchen of his home in Tyler, Texas - a home they briefly shared.

A "loud whack" was heard by Clark's girlfriend, Tory Gene Bush, who was in another room. When Bush went to see what was happening, Clark had dragged a bloodied Ms Muse into the bathtub.

"Clark told Bush to help him hold Muse's head under water and threatened her when she hesitated," the court documents show.

"After drowning Muse, Clark told Bush to go buy some lime. Bush then went across the street to (another) house to get a ride to the store. When Bush returned, she took the lime to Clark … where she saw Muse's body in a blue barrel filled with cement mix.

"Clark poured the lime into the barrel, mixed in water, and put a lid on the barrel."

The pair dumped the victim's body with other trash on a property owned by their landlord. When police later found the victim's remains, with the help of Bush, they also found the remains of another woman, Tracy Mize, floating in a septic tank on the same property.

A jury heard Clark killed Ms Muse because he was worried she would "snitch" on him about his drug dealings when she moved out - Clark and Bush sold meth to locals.

Bush was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for her part in the murder and for helping to dispose of the body. Clark was sentenced to death, a decision that was upheld by the US Supreme Court when he appealed in 2017.

The killer maintains he was set up - that Bush was the mastermind. In a letter he wrote on his 33rd birthday in 2000, shortly after being sentenced, Clark described his life as a "horror" and "still shocking to me".

Troy Clark is set to be executed on Wednesday.
Troy Clark is set to be executed on Wednesday.

"How can an innocent person be sent to death row," he wrote.

"I did not commit this horrible crime."

He argued that he did not receive a fair trial, and that his legal team was inadequate.

"Since my court appointed attorney was not qualified and ineffective, my innocence was not proven and I was found guilty of capital murder."

In the letter, in which he sought a penpal, Clark described himself as "blue eyes, light brown hair and I enjoy all types of music".

"I like drawing and doing art, reading, writing, playing chess and football.

"I would like to write and correspond with people that are not afraid to be themselves, that would like to write and receive letters.

"I am also interested in people who can help me show that I am innocent and help assist me anyway possible."

In February this year, Walk in Those Shoes - a website that publishes letters from inmates around the United States - published a poem credit to inmate Troy Clark from the Polunsky Unit that houses condemned Texans.

In it, the author claims to have "lost the faith".

Locked in a cell with nothing but pain,

Thoughts of injustice running through my brain.

Sitting on Texas Death Row, waiting to die,

For a crime I've not done, you might ask why …

How did it start, where will it end?

Why did this horrible nightmare begin?

Why did she lie and condemn me to death?

I'll ask this question with my last breath.

I understand she was scared and alone,

But to blame it on me was wrong.

So, now I lay behind these walls of concrete and steel,

Waiting for justice on my appeal.

Kept in solitary confinement in this man made hell,

Empty inside, no longer a man, only a shell.

Missing my children all these years,

Shattered dreams, lost hopes, silent tears.

Angry for all the years I've lost,

Found faith for that man on the cross.

If not the lord to help ease my pain,

The cruelness of this place would drive me insane.

When my day comes and it's my turn to go,

There's something I want everyone to know.

Life is short and often tragic,

Find the Lord, you'll find life's magic.

Clark finished the poem with the words "God Bless you and me" and an author's note.

"It's eighteen years later … I've lost my faith."

Texas has executed five men already in 2018. By the end of the year, the number of executions carried out in the Lone Star State will be 12.

Troy Clark. Picture: Smith County Jail
Troy Clark. Picture: Smith County Jail