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xi Author’s Notes This is a work of nonfiction; all of the characters are/were real people and all of the episodes are carefully documented through interviews, official records, sworn statements, or eyewitness testimony . I have tried to make clear those few instances where I have drawn conclusions, made assumptions, or reconstructed dialogue. In producing Worse Than Death, I collected many thousands of pages of official and unofficial documents. In some cases, I viewed reports that are not yet public record. On other occasions, during interviews, sources gave me information on the condition that they not be identified. Since most of the major characters of this book are still alive, I accepted those conditions. Information from confidential documents and/or sources are hereafter cited as “Confidential Source.” In some instances I used only first names, altered first names, or nicknames of some individuals who deserve peace and privacy. An asterisk (*) follows my first use of those names. Throughout the year 2002 I made repeated attempts to convince Abdelkrim Belachheb to allow me to interview him. First, I requested an interview through the Office of Public Information of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Officials at the William C. Clements Unit at Amarillo contacted him and he declined my request. Second, I wrote a series of letters to him directly. He responded cordially twice, but still declined to be interviewed in person. I repeated my requests throughout the process of writing, editing, and submitting a manuscript. He was also offered an opportunity to speak to me during my visit to the Clements Unit on September 13, 2002. Mr. Belachheb could not have been given more opportunities to express his version of the events that led to the murders he committed on June 29, 1984, his trial, and his incarceration . He declined. It is my conclusion that as part of his defense Abdelkrim Belachheb shamelessly made attempts to exploit stereotypes and xii • AUTHOR’S NOTES even fears some Americans have of Muslims and North Africans and peoples of the Middle East, especially of Berbers and Arabs. I ask readers to remember that although I reported what Abdelkrim Belachheb said, it does not mean I believe it—quite the contrary. Finally, as with my previous books, my objective is to establish the facts of a case that has had a profound effect on the law, our perceptions of it, or law enforcement/criminal justice practices. Such crimes are usually monumentally offensive. Thus, providing context and establishing the facts requires detailed descriptions and analyses of gruesome scenes. Gary M. Lavergne Cedar Park, Texas July 28, 2003 ...