April 28th marked the start of the trial for a handsome young man accused of murder.  Ronald George Decker was charged with the murder of Edwin Bryan Hoople who was dead in a rented apartment after neighbors reported a foul smell coming from his unit.  Decker was apprehended at a friend and former resident of Odessa's house near Flint, Michigan on November 27th.

Ronald George Decker 25
Ronald George Decker 25

A man is found dead in an apartment, when he's found it's determined that he's been dead for about a week.  He is bound to the bed, naked.  He's been shot, not once but four times, twice in the back of the head, once in the back and once in the side.  Edwin Bryan Hoople was 40 years old at the time.  He didn't live in Odessa, he was actually from Seguin.  Decker didn't live in Odessa either, according to the address he gave the court he was from California but he was known to live all over, bumming rides and staying here and there.  According to Decker, 25 at the time, Hoople picked him up as he was hitch hicking.  Hoople rented a room for a week at the Park Hotel and Apartments on Second street, which was pretty much the kind of place you take.....let's say casual encounters, on "cough, cough" ....dates.  After Decker was apprehended he told police that he was picked up and told he could stay with Hoople at the apartment he rented.  It sounds like a familiar story from that day and age.  People hitch hicked and sometimes accepted offers from complete strangers for the chance to have a couch or a bed to sleep in.  Once such offer was made and the young Mr. Decker accepted.

Here's where the story gets murkey, so I'll just have to tell you what I found in my search for the information regarding this case.  Mr. Hoople picked up a handsome young man as he walked along a long stretch of West Texas highway.  He offered him a place to stay and in return he may have assumed he had the right to ask for something in return.  Decker told police that Hoople took him to the apartment and asked if he would have sex with him, he gave him a diamond ring as incentive and then left the apartment to run errands, he didn't return until the next day.  Decker would tell police that while hew as gone he found pictures in Hoople's things of child pornography and recalled being raped in his youth by two men.  He was enraged and disgusted.  When Hoople came back he began grabbing the young man, putting his arm around him and asked him if thought about what he asked him the day before.  Decker responded by telling Hoople to take a shower, and afterward was willingly tied to the bed.  This part isn't in the paper or any of the information I found but I think we can assume, by the placement of the bullet wounds all being in the back of the head and in the back and then one in the side that the man was tied up face down, a** up.  Plus Decker testified in court that it is at that point that Hoople asks to be sodomized.  That's when the young man with scars from a previous rape at the age of 16 by two men came rushing back and he began to hit the naked, bound stranger asking about the pictures he found.  He tells the court as he holds back tears that he "wanted him to feel the fear that those kids....and I felt", he says he saw the man as one of the men who had raped him.  In the time leading up to the trial Decker had to be examined by a psychologist to determine if he was fit to stand trial.  There was talks of using the insanity plea.  Decker was given the ok for trial.  Back to the testimony given by Decker during the trial.  Decker tells the court that he only intended to scare this man he had tied up. When he found the alleged child pornography (those photos were never found) he also found a gun.  In the course of trying to scare the naked, bound man he pointed the gun at him, not knowing if it was loaded or not and one thing let to another.  Again, the information is vague but there was mention of a hand written note by Decker to himself, apparently, sort of a "to do" list if you will that said things like wipe down door handles and take anything of value....like a list of things to do now that he's shot and killed someone.  Decker's defense attorney's made sure to tell the court all about his troubled childhood, as is the case with many who find themselves in a court room.  They contended he was insane at the time of the shooting, which sounds kinda ridiculous to me considering the totality of the circumstances but what do I know.  Oh, glad you asked, what I know is that this case involved information that was taboo to most everyone involved, homosexuality.  A man shot another man as he lay face down, naked and bound to a bed, then he stole anything he found of value, including his vehicle and fled the state.  At the end of the trial Decker's defense said that the victim played a role in his fate, saying that the blame was on him just as much as it was on Decker. Wow....  Anyway, Decker was sentenced to 30 years with parole, he would only have to serve a fourth of his sentence before he could be considered for parole, that's a mere seven and half years. Decker would still have his whole life ahead of him if and when he was considered for parole and I can almost guarantee he was out after his first parole hearing.  Almost as if the sordid situation merited the outcome and it was all too unfortunate for all involved....especially Mr. Hoople who lost his life, and his dignity.  Thirty years just didn't sound right to me but again, what do I know?

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