(AP) Ray Barham, a killer who wrote award-winning newspaper columns from his prison cell, has died of cancer. He was 72.
Barham, who died Monday at the state prison infirmary, was serving a life sentence for murdering his estranged wife’s boyfriend in 1981.
Barham’s jailhouse writings caught the attention of Concord Monitor editor Mike Pride, who chose him for the paper’s board of contributors in 1987. The two eventually became friends.
He won numerous awards for his observations on such topics as prison crowding, the O.J. Simpson trial, and the motivation of sexual offenders.
“He had all the talent in the world, yet there were times you had to step back and say, ‘Why didn’t he use all these things?'” said Harry Batchelder, a lawyer who once represented Barham. “He wasn’t a thug. … He is very, very educated and articulate, and I enjoyed being around him.”
In his columns, Barham wrote of hope and overcoming despair.
“I am relentlessly suicidal,” he wrote in a 1993 column. “Being asked to die as a quid pro quo is one thing, but being asked to live without hope — that’s incomprehensible.”
Barham admitted to the killing, telling a police officer that it was “better planned than D-Day.”