You probably have not heard the name James Broadnax before. I first learned of his name when the press covered a double murder that took place outside of a recording studio in Texas. Mr. Broadnax and his two accomplices were pulled over in the 1995 Ford Crown Victoria they had stolen from the two murder victims. When the police noticed the wrong plate on the vehicle and ran a check on it, the VIN tied back to the murders.
Here is an interview that Mr. Broadnax did with a TV reporter about the murders he committed. The language you will see in this video is not G rated…but neither is double murder. You’re hearing the unfiltered thoughts of the kind of man who will murder two people in cold blood. Jailhouse interviews with killers are nothing new, of course, but you usually see them done with the more exotic Ted Bundy style serial killers. You don’t often see interviews like this one showing up on those “investigative journalism” shows.
That’s not good fodder for network crime dramas…not enough twists and turns to the story, no room for heroic struggle, no exotic ritualistic habits by the killer. It’s too simple for all of that: Couple of dudes with relatively minor criminal rap sheets get up, smoke up, get on public transportation and go find somebody to rob. Then for no reason the trigger man moves from robbery to double murder…just because he can.
You can sense the reporter’s struggle with this. She expects Mr. Broadnax to mention something that the victims must have done to provoke his violent outburst, but there was nothing. He spotted Matthew Butler and Steve Swann, strikes up a conversation, asked them for a cigarette, and then shot them both in the head multiple times. The reporter asks him a simple question: Why? I want you to pause the video at 55 seconds and take a hard look at the smile he gives in response to that question.
The reporter, likely what we would consider a “normal” person wants to know why, and he thinks it’s funny. One of his accomplices didn’t seem to be quite so jovial about it:
He didn’t mean any harm, you see…he just set out that day to rob somebody. Just little ol’ robbery, not capital murder. Isn’t it amazing to watch a guy try to downplay a violent felony he intended to commit by insisting he didn’t intend to commit another violent felony? This despite the fact that, having watched his cousin blow the two victims to kingdom come, he proceeded to shake down the bodies to see what he could get off of them. Oops! They’re dead! Quick, check their pockets!
As I said earlier, you won’t see this kind of story on Dateline or as a storyline on Law and Order. Because it’s too common. The majority of violent crime in this country is perpetrated by people like Mr. Broadnax. The story arc is depressingly simple. Dude smokes/injects something, goes out hunting, and casually shatters people’s lives. Like it’s nothing…because to him, it really is nothing. This same basic pattern of fact can be matched up to countless other acts of violence. Hell, you could take the stories written about Mr. Broadnax’s crime, wipe out a few specifics and play the most depressing game of Mad Libs ever with at least 1/2 the murder stories that get any news coverage.
Lots of folks interested in the topic of self defense wonder what sort of threat they need to prepare for. Well, here you go. Guys like Mr. Broadnax walking around breathing free air do most of the dirt that gets done. Unlike Mr. Broadnax, though, the majority of them don’t catch the death penalty for the violent crimes they commit.
There, ladies and gentlemen, is the guy who is going to hurt you. Kill you. He’ll do it like it’s nothing. He’ll do it over nothing. And he will grin about literally blowing your head off afterwards. Because, to quote Mr. Broadnax “…better they[sic] life than mine.” Of course, Matthew Butler and Steve Swann posed no threat to Mr. Broadnax whatsoever, but that’s beside the point.
And what about the families of the men he murdered?
“***CENSORED*** they[sic] family too. Both of them.”
Remember: I’m not making this up. There really are guys out there who will kill you in cold blood and then, given the chance, would spit in the face of your grieving family. The judicial system seems incapable of keeping them from committing such crimes. The police, try though they might, rarely ever get there in time to stop them from carrying out acts of violence. Judges and bailiffs can’t even keep these guys quiet enough to let families make an impact statement during the sentencing phase of a trial.