‘A how-to guide for committing murder’

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 16, 2004

Jack Trawick is awaiting execution on Holman Prison’s death row for the torture-slaying of 21-year-old Stephanie Gach.

Stephanie was choked, hit on the head with a ball-peen hammer and stabbed the night of Oct. 9, 1992.

Now, in a bizarre example of technology gone awry, Mary Kate Grach has filed a lawsuit accusing Trawick of using the Internet to post graphic details about the murder of her daughter and to market drawings of the crime and other “souvenirs” to the highest bidder.

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Gach’s attorney, George Jones III of Selma, is scheduled to discuss the case tonight on Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor.” The show airs on Charter Cable channel 52 at 7 p.m.

Gach alleges that Trawick, with the help of New Jersey Web site designer Neil Arthur O’Connor, has somehow established his own Web site. In addition to Trawick, the suit names Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Donal Campbell and Holman Warden Grantt Culliver among others.

Campbell has denied having any knowledge of how Trawick managed to get access to the Internet.

“Prison officials claim they don’t know how he’s getting this stuff out,” Jones said Thursday. “They claim he doesn’t have access to a computer, but we’re not 100 percent certain about that.”

Jones said prison officials have also told him they are monitoring Trawick’s phone calls and censoring his outgoing and incoming mail. “But apparently that hasn’t worked,” he added.

Jones labeled the Web site postings, which were first discovered in December 2002, as “beyond repugnant.” They include graphic descriptions of the crime, drawings and taunts directed at Stephanie’s mother.

“He’s written such things as ‘I enjoyed killing your daughter and this is what I did’ — just really atrocious stuff,” Jones said. “We believe he is doing this to inflict emotional distress on my client. It’s causing my client to have to go through the whole process again and to relive her daughter’s death all over again.”

While the original Web site no longer exists, Jones said he believes that much of the material has been posted to other sites.

The lawsuit alleges that Trawick’s ramblings go beyond being merely a sick joke and actually constitute “a how-to guide for committing murder.”

Explained Jones, “We contemplate that if the man in New Jersey chooses to contest the suit his defense would be that this is protected speech under the First Amendment. But that’s just not true. Our position is that this material unlawfully invades my client’s privacy and inflicts emotional pain.”

This will be Jones’ second appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor.” The first appearance came in the summer of 2002, when he acted as the attorney for two Selma High School students who contended they had been illegally removed from the cheerleading squad. That case was settled and the two girls reinstated.