Max Soffar died of Cancer on Texas's Death Row
An Innocent Man Died of Cancer On Death Row
May 3, 2016
By Brian Stull for the Crime Report
Max Soffar was my client for the last 10 years, but also my soft-spoken,
Texas-drawling, loyal friend who asked after my family and life as often
as he inquired about the status of his appeals.
He was a death-row prisoner wrongly locked up 35 years ago as a troubled,
brain-damaged, drug-addicted mental patient, and self-professed “knucklehead.”
He falsely confessed to one of Houston’s most notorious multiple
murders under the influence of a police officer he thought was his
He then spent decades on death row despite strong evidence that a man
named Paul Reid was guilty of the murders.
Max died an innocent 60-year-old man, still
fighting his appeals and protesting his innocence, finally reduced to
gaunt skin and bones after a three-year battle with liver cancer. Max
was convicted, imprisoned, and sentenced to die even though not a shred
of reliable evidence tied him to the crime: No DNA, no fingerprints, no
blood, no hair, not a single witness.
|An Innocent Man Is Dying of Cancer on Texas's Death Row
U.S. Death Penalty
By Sarah Solon, Communications Strategist, ACLU
Max Soffar has a long history of self-medicating. When he was four, his
parents found him passed out next to their car, gas cap in hand. Since
birth, Max's brain has been damaged. That damage has been made worse by
years of physical and mental abuse by adoptive parents and staff at
At the age of 24 in 1980, Max had the mentality of an 11-year-old. His
brain was "fried," according to police, who knew him as a
dropout and wannabe police informant. Officers arrested Max on a stolen
motorcycle after an infamous robbery-murder at a Houston bowling alley
The police locked Max in a small room and subjected him to a three-day
marathon of aggressive, unrecorded interrogation – marked by prodding,
pressure, and lies – which culminated in a false confession, typed by
police, that the officers convinced a worn down Max to sign.
Max has spent the last 34 years on death row in Texas, but he won't be
alive long enough to be executed. Max has terminal liver cancer. The
question isn't whether he will die; it is only how soon and where:
behind bars or at home.
The forced confession is the only evidence tying Max to the murder. The
state has no DNA, no fingerprints, and no forensic or other reliable
evidence to connect Max to the crime. What's more, and as several
appeals judges have found over the years, the confession is demonstrably
false: It narrates a story that clashes dramatically with the account of
the only surviving witness and with the other known evidence of how the
It's not just the fact that the state put Max on death row with only a
false confession. This whole story of justice gone miserably awry is
made worse by the large mountain of evidence implicating another man,
who died on Tennessee's death row in 2013.
The man's name is Paul Reid. The week before the shootings, Reid got
into an altercation with employees at the bowling alley and threatened
to blow their heads off. He was living and committing robberies in
Houston at the time, and he wasn't at home with his wife on the night
the shootings occurred. Reid looks like the police compositeof the
shooter, and he went on to commit a series of similar crimes in
Tennessee, for which he was caught.
But this evidence of innocence alone won't help Max make it home, to die
in the arms of his loving wife Anita. Max has spent the last 34 years on
death row because of numerous errors during his original trial and a
lugubrious appeals process that will not be over before Max dies.
It falls to Gov. Rick Perry to show Max mercy by using his power to
grant him clemency. This innocent man should be allowed to die at home,
with the support of his friends and family.
|My name is Max Alexander Soffar. I have been locked up since
Aug. 5th 1980. My family have died since I've come here.
In 2006, I was convicted a 2nd time even tho we now know who the real
killer is! My Judge would not let us tell my jury about him, so again I was
I'm 5'11 and 220 pounds w/ brown hair + eyes. My 1st love is the Lord! He
has given me strength to overcome 27 years on Texas death row now.
I enjoy drawing animals and doing portraits. I like to laugh + am always
happy. I'm innocent of the charges the State has placed against me. And
there are many people fighting to prove my innocence. All I want is someone
to write who really care's.
Hope to hear from you soon.
|Max Soffar # 000685
Polunsky Unit DR
3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, Texas 77351
Mein Name ist Max Alexander Soffar. Ich bin seit dem 05. August 1980
eingesperrt. Meine Familie ist während ich hier drin bin verstorben.
Im Jahr 2006 wurde ich ein 2. mal verurteilt, obwohl inzwischen bekannt
ist, wer der wahre Killer ist! Mein Richter wollte nicht, dass wir den
Geschworenen von ihm erzählen, sodass ich erneut verurteilt wurde!
Ich bin 1,80 m groß und wiege 99 kg, habe braunes Haar und Augen. Meine
1. Liebe gilt Gott! Er gab mir die Kraft, 27 Jahre im Todestrakt von Texas
Ich habe Spaß daran, Tiere und Portraits zu malen. Ich lache gerne und
ich bin immer glücklich. Ich bin nicht schuldig im Sinne der Anklage des
Staates und es gibt viele Menschen, die für meine Unschuld kämpfen. Alles
was ich mir wünsche ist, dass mir jemand schreibt, der sich wirklich um
Ich hoffe, bald von Ihnen zu hören.
Gott schütze Sie
Read the news
A copy of today's petition is available online at: www.aclu.org/capital-
|Soffar v. State of Texas|
Texas Sentences to Death an Innocent Man, the ACLU Appeals
March 29, 2010
A Texas jury, deprived of critical information about the real killer, convicted
Max Soffar of capital murder for 4 victims shot in a bowling alley. The jury
didn't know that Paul Reid confessed to shooting four people in a bowling alley,
that Paul Reid committed a series of armed robberies in both Texas and
Tennessee, including multiple-victim robber murders in Tennessee eerily similar
to the Houston bowling alley robbery murders.
The jurors saw a police composite of the shooter and a picture of Max Soffar.
They never saw the picture of Paul Reid (taken in his then home city Houston
only nine days after the bowling alley robbery murders), just like they never
heard the evidence of his confession or signature robbery-murder pattern.