Death row inmate at center of lawsuit

Published 3:11 pm Thursday, January 29, 2004

By By Arthur McLean Managing Editor
A recent lawsuit has given one of Atmore's correctional facilities unwanted international press.
Recently, a $45 million lawsuit was filed by Mary Kate Gach, against convicted murderer Jack Trawick, Neil A. O'Connor, Prison Commissioner Donal Campbell and other prison officials.
Trawick was convicted of the torture and murder of Stephanie Gach, Mary Kate Gach's daughter in 1992. He now sits on death row in Holman Prison, just nine miles north of Atmore.
At the center of the lawsuit is a Web site operated by O'Connor that published details of Trawick's writings about the abduction and murder.
Mary Kate Gach said the Web site is a "how-to" manual for other would-be killers and has tormented her family by forcing them to relive the ordeal all over again.
The case has brought international media attention to the issue, with newspapers from the New York Times to publications in South Africa running stories about Trawick and the lawsuit.
Trawick, who is currently sitting on death row, does not have access to the Internet, nor do any inmates in Alabama's prison system, said a spokesman for the Alabama Department of Corrections.
Trawick likely sent his murderous musings through the mail to his willing accomplice, O'Connor, according to prison officials.
Trawick is not the first convicted killer to have his writings published on the Internet to a potential worldwide audience. An Internet search performed by the Atmore Advance revealed several sites devoted to serial killers and other criminals.
The ACLU has taken stands in the past to protect what they claim are inmates rights to free speech, but Trawick's taunts and claims that he would do it again, knowing he would be condemned to death, were too much for the family.
Even though prison officials have been named in the suit, they say they support the family's efforts to remove Trawick's writings from the Internet.
A DOC spokesman said the state's prisons usually screen incoming mail more closely than outgoing mail, but they have stepped up efforts to screen Trawick's mail to help put an end to his Internet infamy.
"We're talking about things that came out about two years ago," said Brian Corbett, a DOC spokesman. "But we are supportive of the family's efforts despite the lawsuit."

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