Sunshine
Brian Deneke 1978-1997
"Those who have spontaneous feelings can only be themselves. They have no other choice if they want to remain true to themselves. Rejection, ostracism, loss of love, and name calling will not fail to affect them; they will suffer as a result and will dread them, but once they have found their authentic self they will not want to lose it. And when they sense that something is being demanded of them to which their whole being says no, they cannot do it. They simply cannot."- Alice Miller, 1983.
 Links to media accounts of what happened             How to contact the perpetrators of this injustice
 Messages of Support     An email from Warren Clark, and my response
Updates (January 12): The official page of the Brian Deneke Memorial Commitee is now online at www.briandeneke.org  . Bri of badgebrigade has created a webring dedicated to Brian (see below)

The writing and choice of content of this page are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Deneke family, the Brian Deneke Memorial or anyone besides myself. Any comments about the contents of this web page
should be sent  here. Kaade Roberts.  Last update: January 12, 2000.
This Brian Deneke Memorial Webring site owned by Kaade
[ Previous 5 Sites | Previous | Next | Next 5 Sites | Random Site | List Sites
Brian Deneke was one of the kindest and most courageous people I have ever known. I met Brian when he was 14 and I used to hang out with his brother Jason. He was kind of quiet back then, especially compared to how outspoken he became in the years to come. Over the years, each time I came back to Amarillo, I could see not only how Brian grew as an individual, but the effect that he had on the people around him.
    Amarillo is a city of about 160,000 and there's not much around it for a few hours drive. Most everyone who grows up there complains that there's very little to do. Brian always managed to find something.  He was always encouraging the people around him to do something to make their town a better place: publishing zines, putting together punk rock shows- from local kids on guitar and home-made percussion, to talking out of town bands like Naked Aggression into playing free shows in the park while paying for their expenses from the money he saved. The police in Amarillo tended to be very intolerant of  anything to do with gatherings of those not in Amarillo's mainstream. When Brian was 16, at the Egg, a punk club that had been set  up in a commercially zoned building, with no residencies for several blocks away. Police were trying to force the people there to hear music to leave, claiming there were noise complaints. Brian wouldn't accept our right to assemble being infringed (among the other dangerous things happening that night was poetry reading) so he refused to go and when the officer threatened force, Brian told him what to go do with himself. Later he helped set up a house on 8th street where touring bands could crash and anyone who needed a place to stay could find refuge. He worked for the Dynamite Museum, a group of artists who put up art signs all over town, posted free in the yards of anyone who wanted one. In many places there are several on each block, many of these painted by Brian.
    Another aspect of Amarillo's isolation is that it has become a haven for some really backwards thinking. It was one of the last places in the country to integrate the public schools, and at the two schools with more children of the middle class, a definite pecking order exists. I remember that when I was in high school, a few years before I met Brian, a series of copycat suicides took place with students from Amarillo High and Tascosa, the two schools on the west side of town. There were many people who could never or would never choose to be, part of the accepted norm, and were ostracized. Things changed in large part because of Brian. Not only did he not take the status quo seriously, but was very upfront about it, wearing his spiked blue mohawk without apology to anyone. He would often get beat up, but never waivered in his belief that people should be who they are. The more beatings he got, the tougher his resolve. After a while, jocks would jump him in groups because they knew they couldn't take him alone. He was very visible, and friendly to anyone who would accept his friendship. Because of him, those younger than him were inspired to have the courage to express their true emotions, knowing that there were people who would accept them for who they are, no matter what that might be labeled. Those older than him were inspired by him to stay honest and true to what we believe and not sell out.
     Aside from the punk shows, the place where much of the socializing of people outside of the mainstream takes place in Amarillo is late at night at 24 hour restaurants. You can most nights find among the regular customers punks, hippies, goths, and any other kind of person (no matter what kind of meaningless label they get classed under). These places tended to serve as a home base, where you could find someone you know or meet someone new, and anyone could join in a conversation. The night Brian was murdered the punks had not come as part of some agreed upon rumble, as his murderers' lawyer would have you believe. Because of an altercation the week before, they knew there might be trouble, but as this was where they usually met up with everyone, they decided that they weren't going to let harassment from some high school jocks dictate what they did with their time.
    That night I was at my friend Katrina's house, and we considered going to ihop, knowing nothing of the events of the week before. Instead by chance we ended up just hanging out at her house, talking about old friends. As we were parting, she talked about Brian, and how her mother had taught him how to make cookies using cake mix, and how Brian was amused that you "can make cookies without actually making cookies". I told her that yeah, we should hang out with Brian sometime soon. The next morning she called me to tell me that Brian was intentionally run down by a someone in a Cadillac.
    The attendees at his funeral were a testament to the way he was always reaching out to learn more about people. It was one the most diverse gatherings of that size that I have seen in Amarillo. People of all different religious beliefs, different races, straight and gay, all came together in prayer and remembrance, punk rockers and people in business suits weeping on each other's shoulders. The head of the NAACP talked about how Brian had been fascinated when first learning about the history of Juneteenth, and ended up riding in the Juneteenth parade with him. In turn he went to the mall with Brian, so that Brian could walk through without getting harassed by a security guard.
    His aunt and uncle read a letter from a family of two elementary age boys who met Brian at a restaurant. The boys had been staring at his mohawk, so he went over and made friends with them. They then told about having to explain to their five year old son what had happened to Brian when the boy came to them with the newspaper to show them that his special friend's picture was on the front page. When I looked around me, on top of the sorrow I felt, I felt joy that because of Brian so much beauty there that people might have been hidden in all of us there had been brought to the light of day, like the nickname he had been give, "Sunshine".
    It was not until considerably later that I found out much more about what happened. It was almost two years before Dustin Camp, the murderer, was brought to trial. In that time he was allowed to finish high school and receive his diploma. The district attorney turned the case over to an assistant DA. Camp's lawyer, Warren Clark,  knew how to play on the prejudices of the jury, and turned the case into a character assasination of Brian, and Brian's friends. Since Brian was not legally on trial, and the assistant DA had never met Brian when he was alive, no character witnesses were called to counter Clark's claim that Brian was "violent" and a "mean drunk", and the jury was swayed by the argument of "defense of a third party". In spite of  the testimony of a young woman who was in the car with Camp at the time of the incident reporting Camp exclaiming "I'm a ninja in my Caddy" right after Brian was crushed under Camp's car. Clark passed around the boots and jacket Brian had been wearing when he was killed, and a photo of Brian's hairdo. It became a contest of image vs. substance, and image won. They convicted Camp only of manslaughter, and probated the sentence and the fine. He has not served a day in jail.
    There are many who would like for this to just go away, who think that "healing" means "forgetting". Those of us who knew Brian will NEVER forget him. We carry him with us, and any time we find ourselves facing an injustice we will think "what would Brian have done?" So with this injustice I am trying to do what Sunshine always does: show the real beauty of who Brian was, and expose evil that hides behind pretty pictures and in places where it thinks the light of day can not reach. Please help to do this by telling people you know about what happened here.


If you would like to post an email of support to the family and friends, you can send it to me and I will post it here.
To contact the people who caused this to happen go here. 
National and state coverage of the trial
 
20/20 Downtown January 6, 2000. The transcript is now online, and there were many responses to the program in the related message board.
On January 11, The Leeza Show did a program interviewing Brian's father and friends. No one volunteered to represent the Camps. I will make the transcripts available her if and when they become available.
National Public Radio- All Things Considered 11-22-99     Requires the RealAudio Player
Note: This radio broadcast refers to Dustin Camp as being 16, but according to all other sources, he was 17 at the time of the murder.
Texas Monthly November 1999: The Outsiders
Houston Press article 
Dallas Observer- same article, different photos and editor 10-21-99
Dallas Observer followup- Slippery Tale 11-25-99 Includes Camp's original statement to police which was not admitted as evidence in the trial.
New York Times: After a Murder Trial, Amarillo Asks, 'Is This a Tolerant Place?' 11-26-99
Dateline NBC ran a program about the trial on Sunday, November 28 which can not be found in their archives


Amarillo Globe-News  Articles and Letters to the Editor-
     Most recent      1999     1998

1997
08-21-97 (Article about work Brian did with the Dynamite Museum)
12-14-97 Family suspects killing linked to teen's looks
12-15-97 Police hold 17-year-old in death of teen hit by car
12-15-97 School security tight after death
12-16-97 Culture clash has fatal result
12-16-97 Witness describes fight
12-17-97 Deneke died 'Fighting for what he Believed in'
12-17-97 Participants in fatal fight fear retaliation
12-18-97 Friends honor victim of fight between groups of teens
12-18-97 Accused teen not in school
12-19-97 Suspect's arrest stuns friends
12-19-97 APD concludes dispatchers handled Deneke call promptly
12-20-97 'Sunshine'
12-21-97     Opinion: Teen-ager's death causes furious swirl of rumors
12-22-97 Friends Show grief in tattoos, concert
12-24-97 Autopsy shows cause of death was 'crush injuries'
12-24-97 Teens, family form committe in memory of Brian Deneke
12-30-97 Deneke death finishes year
12-31-97     Letters to the Editor: Refrain from judging the Deneke case
 
1998
01-06-98 Report shows Deneke had 0.18 alcohol level
01-18-98    Letters to the Editor: Deneke didn't deserve his tragic demise
01-19-98    Letters to the Editor: Victim was person, not just another name
02-05-98 Camp indicted in Deneke death
02-12-98 Deneke committee plans fund-raiser
04-24-98    Guest Column: Adults not giving children enough time, attention
05-27-98 Arson investigator gets clue
06-05-98 Taking it one day at a time
06-05-98 Deneke's friends schedule festival
06-05-98    Letters to the Editor: Article shocking
06-05-98    Letters to the Editor: Feature on Camp disgusts reader
06-11-98    Letters to the Editor: Let a court determine whether Camp guilty
07-02-98    Letters to the Editor: Investigator wrong to incriminate punks
07-27-98 Concert, festival honors Deneke
10-03-98 Brian Deneke Memorial Committee to meet

1999
07-11-99 Families ready for Camp trial
08-22-99 Jury selection starts Monday in Camp trial
08-23-99 Jury selection set to begin for Camp trial
08-24-99 Jurors chosen for Camp trial
08-25-99 Fight days before preceded death
08-25-99 Fight views differ
08-26-99 Decisions leading to fight questioned
08-26-99 'It happened really fast'
08-27-99 Passenger in car takes stand
08-27-99 Witness details car striking teen
08-28-99 Prosecution rests case in Camp trial
08-29-99 Attorneys focus on role of alcohol in Deneke's death
08-29-99 News: Headlines
08-30-99 Defense to Begin
08-31-99 Defense calls six witnesses
08-31-99 Jury set to weigh charges
09-01-99 Camp faces prison sentence ranging from 2 to 20 years
09-01-99 Verdict reaction is mixed
09-01-99 Deneke's father says family pleased with jury's decision
09-01-99 Defense asks for probation
09-01-99 News: Headlines
09-02-99 Sentence: probation
09-02-99 Camp gets probation
09-02-99 Victim's dad unsurprised by sentence
09-02-99 Alternate juror stunned by decision
09-03-99    Editorial: Community has to heal in wake of Camp verdict
09-08-99    Letters to the Editor
09-09-99    Opinion: The Camp Verdict
09-09-99     Opinion: Letters
09-09-99     Opinion: Henry: Our differences don't make a difference
09-10-99    Letters to the Editor: The Camp Verdict
09-15-99    Letters to the Editor
09-16-99    Letters to the Editor
09-17-99 Lopez seals jurors' list
09-17-99    Letters to the Editor
09-18-99 Judge explains sealed juror list in Camp trial
09-19-99    Letters to the Editor
09-20-99    Opinion: Monday Briefing
09-20-99    Letters to the Editor
09-23-99    Editorial: Judge Lopez decision ensures public safety
09-23-99    Letters to the Editor
09-24-99    Letters: Teens express mixed views
09-28-99 Camp's condition outlined
09-29-99 Spending limit, curfew included in Camp's terms
09-30-99    Other Opinion: Don't close your ears, minds to our youth
10-10-99    Letters to the Editor
11-03-99 Media revisit murder trial
11-06-99 Camps break their silence about case
11-11-99    Opinion: Henry: This time, it may not be so pretty
12-01-99    Letters to the Editor
12-02-99    Letters to the Editor
12-05-99    Letters to the Editor
12-07-99 Denekes, friend file civil lawsuit against Camps
12-09-99    Editorial: Deneke/ Camp litigation not community reflection
12-13-99 Mourners remember teen
12-14-99 Two years later
12-17-99    Seewald: Appearance may condemn people
12-17-99    Van Camp: Jury did its job during sentencing
12-19-99    Trowbridge: Where's outrage for victims?
12-27-99    Letters to the Editor
12-27-99    Letters to the Editor
12-29-99 Camps deny wrongdoing

2000
01-01-00 Top 10 stories of 1999
01-01-00    Goals for 2000 bring call for new challenge
01-03-00 Camp trial tops Potter County courthouse news
01-09-00    Letters to the Editor
01-12-00    Letters to the Editor
 

Back to Top     1