Hi, my name is David Duren, and I'd like to take this time to share something of great
importance with you in hopes that my story will aid you in making some of the most
important decisions you will be faced with in life.
But first, let me tell you a little about myself. I'm a white male; I just turned 25
years old. I have a G.E.D. and an average I.Q. of 132. I come from a middle class family
and I am currently on Alabama's death row awaiting execution.
How did this happen, you ask? That's an important question, one that I have asked
myself over the past four years on numerous occasions. But it's an important question
that has an even more important answer--an answer that over the past four years of my
life, I have been able to accurately piece together by reviewing my life. Because, while
I am in a most realistic, life-threatening situation... [I can say] my only hope is the
salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ. If you will listen carefully and accept with an open
mind and heart what I'm about to share with you, I believe that you can use my mistakes to
check your life, and the lives of those you associate with, to help you correct and/or
avoid making those same mistakes before they get too far out of hand to be corrected.
My real problem was peer pressure. I was a skinny little weakling, a "straight" kid,
living in an apartment complex where nearly all of the kids lived with single parents who
had to work and leave the kids unattended. So for company and fun we all "hung out"
together. Like I said, I was not accepted by the other kids because I didn't do the
things they did. I didn't curse, smoke, drink, or smoke pot (at first). But I knew if I
wanted to fit in, if I wanted any "real friends" (Ha!), I had to do all of those things.
So at age 12, I inhaled my first cigarette, drank my first beer, cursed regularly, and
smoked my first joint. "Aw, a little pot never hurt anybody!" "Pot's not addictive--it
doesn't make you crazy!" Maybe, maybe not, we'll leave that to the medical experts--and
they say differently. But the point is, it doesn't stop there! In my case, and in many
others I've discovered, by succumbing to peer pressure, I surrounded myself with so-called
friends who drank, smoked, cursed, and did drugs. And when you smoke pot, you've got to
get it from someone who sells it. And frankly, I never met anybody who sold pot only. So
by smoking pot, you introduce yourself to the drug world. You run the same risks
drinking. Suddenly, you need something to enhance your drunk, so you smoke a joint--I
did. So one day you go to buy some pot from your "connection," and he or she says, "Oh,
man, I don't have any pot right now, but I've got some bad quaaludes, or some crack, or a
few valium, placidills, or even acid (L.S.D.).
I know, because that's the way it happened to me. So you buy whatever is for sale.
And, before you know it, you're not just smoking pot anymore--you're crushing quaaludes
and mixing that with your pot. So you're all strung out now and need a pick-me-up. "Hey!
This cocaine will really put you in the clouds!" Now you're flirting with death. And what
happens when you "need a fix" but can't pay for it? I think we all know the answer to
that one. And if you think you can do without it until you can pay for it, you're only
kidding yourself. I was so bad off, I was doing heroin two and three times a week--and I
didn't even like the high! My "favorite" drug? Acid--L.S.D. I was doing it (when I was
in the Army, even) on an average of four and five times a week. I was doing it the night
I murdered a 16-year-old girl (the reason I'm here now). All because I succumbed to peer
pressure--because that's where it all started. Only later did it lead to addiction.
I'm not writing this to have something to do! I could be watching TV right now. I
have Bible studies that I have to get done by Thursday night. So, I'm not doing this for
the fun of it. Do you think it's "fun" for me to sit here and tell you that I murdered a
sixteen-year-old girl because I was so strung out on drugs and booze that I didn't know
how to act like a responsible citizen? Do you think that it's fun for me? It's
humiliating, embarrassing, and generally downright painful to have to relate to someone.
So, I'm not doing this for me--I'm doing this for you, because I care! I don't want to
see others ruin their lives and the lives of innocent people as I have. I've traveled
that road you, or someone you know is traveling right now. That road is dark, it's a dead
end street, and I have reached its end. Its end is ugly, its end is pain, its end is
lonely, its end is death.
Have you, or do you know anybody who has ever witnessed an execution here at Holman
Prison or any other prison where they use the electric chair as the vehicle of death? If
you do know somebody who has witnessed an execution by electrocution, ask them to describe
the sight of a man strapped into the electric chair when 1600+ volts of electricity pass
through his body--straining and creaking the leather restraining straps. Ask them to
describe the sight and smell of that man's burning flesh as the electrode gets so hot it
sears like a branding iron branding cattle. Ask him to describe the sight of the
horrifying mask that once was that man's face, but now looks like an almost comically
macabre Halloween mask--eyes bulging, face grimacing, mouth opened in a silent scream (not
because he wouldn't scream, but because the pain was so intense he couldn't scream).
Maybe you're not into the things I've discussed here today. Good! You're on the right
track. But maybe you know someone you care about who is walking that dead-end street. If
so, share this with them.
I have cost an innocent girl her life, and have ruined countless other lives by doing
so. I sincerely hope that what I have shared with you today is responsible someday for
saving lives. I ask for your prayers and welcome any and all mail, positive or negative.
In Christian love, -- David Duren
May the love and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ keep you.