A Quaker-sponsored art show by a death-row inmate who murdered three people has sparked outrage among families of two Tucson murder victims.
The Pima Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends will show Danny Jones' drawings on Sept. 29 at their meetinghouse, 931 N. Fifth Ave.
In March 1992, Jones beat his friend Robert Weaver, 34, with a baseball bat after a day of partying. He then attacked Weaver's 77-year-old grandmother, Katherine Gumina, before dragging Weaver's 7-year-old daughter, Tisha, out from under her parents' bed and beating and strangling her. After loading up Gumina's car with Weaver's gun collection, Jones beat Weaver five more times, killing him.
Gumina died after spending 17 months in a coma.
Jones was convicted by a Mohave County jury in September 1993 and sentenced to death.
Jeanmarie Simpson said she and other members of the Quakers' Peace and Social Concerns committee were asked to sponsor Jones' work by his pen pals, George and Nancy Mairs.
The Quakers have a long history of being death-penalty abolitionists and "A View from Death Row" is a way to get their views out there, Simpson said.
"We want to illuminate the fact that he is a human being. He is not his crime," Simpson said. "He is an artist. He is a man with the ability to see beauty and to create beauty."
Simpson acknowledged that most people don't want to talk or think about those on death row, let alone look at their art.
"But we don't define other artists or ourselves by our lowest moments," Simpson said. "We don't even know what most people's lowest moments are."
As a longtime peace activist, Simpson said she is used to be being criticized. Already, nasty messages are being left on the group's Facebook page, she said.
Jones is a self-taught artist who uses pencil to draw Southwestern images and wildlife.
His work will not be sold at the exhibit, although he does sell his work at the prison in Florence, Simpson said.
Stephanie Brandt's 8-year-old sister, Vicki Lynne Hoskinson, was kidnapped and murdered in September 1984. Her killer, Frank Jarvis Atwood, 56, remains on death row.
Brandt was stunned to learn of the exhibit.
In an email to the Star, she wrote: "We will never, ever, ever have the chance to know what kind of wonderful, beautiful things that his victims, Robert, Katherine & Tisha, would have created or brought into this world. And it is a shame and waste of human existence that instead of putting to use any ounce of good this murdering monster had, he wasted it by killing three people and now spends his life on death row waiting to be put to death for his CRIMES.
"His crimes DEFINE every bit of what he is. I am a victim, the other end of what he has done. And at MY lowest point, I have not murdered anyone, nor done anything close to the despicable acts that he carried out the day he made a CHOICE and killed three people," Brandt wrote.
Carol Gaxiola's 14-year-old daughter, Jasmin, was murdered in October 1999. The current executive director of Homicide Survivors said she noticed there is no mention of Jones' victims in the press release about the event and no mention of remorse. She was also appalled the release said Jones hopes to live.
"I can only imagine that his three victims - terrorized, brutalized and murdered - wanted to live also," Gaxiola said. "This man made a brutal and violent choice when he took three lives in such a violent and reprehensible manner. He should not be given accolades and be celebrated! If anyone should be remembered, it should be the victims."
Simpson has invited people to email her with "respectful" questions for Jones so that his answers may be recorded and played during the four-hour exhibit.
Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Taylor, a death-penalty-abolition activist, will speak at the exhibit as well as the Mairses and exhibit curator, Gene Hall.
The exhibit will be from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, at The Pima Friends Meeting House, 931 N. Fifth Ave.
Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or email@example.com