Thursday, May 29, 2008

Life and death in black and white

More like shades of gray

A twenty-year resident of San Quentin's death row has been using his time in limbo to create art. He's had some success. A showing of his work is being hosted by San Francisco's Braunstein/Quay Gallery. In an article published by the San Francisco Chronicle on May 28, 2008, gallery owner Ruth Braunstein said, “Someone told me this was the most unbelievable use of black-and-white they'd seen in years.”

William Noguera's monochromatic oeuvre is eye-catching and has pushed into the background the crime that put him on death row. Noguera is a murderer, having been convicted of the 1983 slaying of his girlfriend's mother. His girlfriend Dominique Navarro was also convicted in her mother's murder, the jury accepting the prosecution's argument that she and Noguera had a financial stake in her mother's death.

However, Noguera's art agent, Cassandra Richardson, sees a crime of passion, as she explained to the Chronicle's Jesse Hamlin:
He'd been sent up by a jury that believed he killed for financial gain because Dominique Navarro stood to inherit some insurance money and the home of her mother, who'd been brutally beaten and choked. The more she learned about it, Richardson said, she came to agree with Noguera's appellate lawyer, Robert R. Bryan, that Noguera deserved a new trial.

“What I'm comfortable saying is that he was in love with this girl and he never had a good relationship with her mother,” Richardson said. “The girlfriend got pregnant and the mother basically forced her to get an abortion. William is a devout Catholic. He walked in and lost it and killed her.”
The religion excuse. William Noguera is so pro-life that he was provoked into a homicidal act. Anyway, he never had a “good relationship” with his victim, so perhaps his crime isn't that surprising.

Feel better now?

I have never supported capital punishment. Except for the one true argument in its favor (recidivism is zero among executed felons), the death penalty is destructive of time, resources, and respect for the process of law. Even with the expensive and time-consuming safeguards required before the death penalty's imposition (except, apparently, in Texas), we still keep finding innocent people on death row. A life sentence without possibility of parole is in every way a more efficient and less draconian penalty—and has the advantage of not being irrevocable. In Noguera's case, still under appeal, who can deny that his presence on death row adds a certain cachet to his art? Perhaps people would be less interested in buying his art work if he were merely a lifer.

Noguera says he rues the crime for which he was convicted: “I have regret, remorse, and I'm terribly sorry for what happened.” Perhaps he feels he can get some consideration for acting out his devout religious convictions. The sob story appears to have worked on his agent. Will it work in a new trial? Or will a new jury find the religion excuse as noisome as I do?

In A Stone for Edmund Dantes, which appears to be a self-portrait, Noguera evokes the plight of the Count of Monte Cristo, a man condemned to languish behind the rough-hewn blocks of a bleak prison. In Noguera's version, the stones of the Chateau d'If become clean, precise rectangles with stippled patterns. There's another difference, too, but one that the artist might prefer to ignore: Dantes was an innocent man condemned to prison by the machinations of a jealous rival. Whatever he may be in his own mind, Noguera is not the Count of Monte Cristo.

11 comments:

The Ridger, FCD said...

Ummm - that's some novel definition of "crime of passion" there. A vengeance killing, perhaps. But that's exactly the kind of man who shouldn't be out - he could kill again if he gets to know someone else who has an abortion. Sheesh.

That said, I too am against the death penalty.

Anonymous said...

Well, it's not a "crime of passion" when the murderer plans the killing. According to court testimony (linked below), Noguera and Navarro asked another friend to kill her mother. However, the friend was arrested for an old warrant. So, at least two weeks later, Noguera went to Navarro's home and killed her mother.

http://ca.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.%5CCA%5CPLS%5C1992%5C19921228_0040024.CA.htm/qx

Anonymous said...

Wow i just bumped into this blog, I grew up with the girl who mother was murdered. He and her were not religious at all!!! In fact, they both attended school the very next day as though nothing happened. he deserves to be in prison for the rest of his life. Nice paintings but we will never know what creative endeavors the mother may have had left in her life. She was a nice lady, a single mother devoted to her child. She did not deserve this to happen to her. And for his agent, shame on that whore.

Just as he sees it said...

This guy is a homicidal maniac who was convicted of killing his girlfriends mother because of the bite marks he left on her thigh. That "Devout Catholic" defense is hogwash! It is very well known in Jail circles that "Billy" is a trained Martial Arts thug who uses his martial art training to enforce Jail house rules and bully other inmates. Devout Catholic don't force their will on people nor do they bite people just before killing them. Perhaps he doesn't need to die in the gas chamber but he does deserve to live the rest of his natural life in prison.

misty said...

I was Dominique's best friend from the age of 6 till about 12. I was no longer in her life when this happened. Joice was like a second mom to me and I was devistated when this happened. I feel that the piece of dirt should rot in hell no matter how he gets there, and I can't believe he is still alive. He has gotten to live a lot longer then he should have. If anyone knows who I am please contact me; mjukebox12@aol.com

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous, I was an aquaintance of both Billy & Dominique and I specifically remember them attending a Cinco de Mayo car show that the high school had a few days later holding hands and walking around like nothing. All of us were amazed at her being there. This was not a crime of passion, this was a planned out murder!

Anonymous said...

I also knew Dominique and her mother. Her mom was so sweet to me. When Bill came into Dominiques life she completely changed for the worst! She was dating a guy named Don before that who was a sweetheart. Bill was a criminal, period! He was into stealing cars and threatening people. He actually threatened to steal my Volkswagon and when my older brother caught wind of it he put the word out that he better not go near my car or me. When Bill heard this he threatened to steal my car and left a message on my answering machine that he was going to kill my brother. Dominiques mom was trying to look out for her daughter and he brutally killed her. It's as simple as that. What ever happened Dominique????

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what has happened to Dominique? did she change her name? She too deserves to go to hell.

Anonymous said...

Dominique's mom was not a great person. She was seriously abusive which is a fact of the case, public record, and one of the major issues in Bill's appeal process. Dominique has 3 children last I knew and was married to a sheriffs deputy(!) She saved my sons life a number of years ago and I have since figured that is some atonement, at least in MY book...
-sm

Daddio said...

I lived with Dominique and Jovita and had a first hand look at the relationship. Jovita was NEVER abusive to Dominique. They were very close and could talk about anything. Dominique confided to me that she loved to live dangerously but never acted on it or said this to her mom. That all changed when Dominique started dating Bill. He was your typical sociopath- gregarious, intelligent, unpredictable and could switch from charming to chilling instantly. Dominique had found her passion but was not a prisoner. She was equally involved from day one with Bill's crude bullying and criminal acts that began petty and culminated into capitol ones. The only miscarriage of justice here is Bill is being touted as a "talent" and Dominique gets to pretend she is free and normal while her loving and caring mother was denied reaping the rewards of being a hard-working and genuinely good person. Misty, I remember you fondly and hope you are doing well. You, your brother Mike and both of your parents are super people.

Anonymous said...

You know nothing for a fact Daddio. What you "know for a fact" is untrue. There is proof. Look at Bills appeals if you want proof. sm