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Few in the room expected Joe Easton to disagree with that. Easton, a special assistant with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, is a bureaucrat who doesn't rock the law-enforcement boat. But this time, Easton voted his conscience.
"I have to ask myself what is right and just in this particular case," Easton said. "The element of doubt would be substantial. There is a grave question in my mind as to whether Officer Gravell actually killed himself or was killed. If I'm to make an error, I would prefer to err to Mr. Gravell."
Grant Woods spoke up. As a politician, he's supposed to handle delicate situations such as these with aplomb. He did his job very well.
"The way I understand this memorial is that it's most meaningful to the families of fallen police officers," Woods said. "There are substantial doubts here. We're not here to make a final conclusion if this was a suicide or a homicide. We're here to make a decision as to whether this matter ends for this family and maybe the healing process can begin." Woods concluded by quoting a line from a play titled, I Never Sang for My Father: "`Death ends a life, but does not end a relationship, which struggles on in the mind of the survivor, searching for a resolution they may never find.' That's probably what the last several years have been for this family."
It was time to vote. Three--Woods, Easton, and Cyndi Calender, from the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary--voted to put Bill Gravell's name on the memorial. Three--Carstens from Tucson, Ron Young, and DPS Major Deston Coleman, subbing for DPS director Rick Ayars--voted no.
Woods looked down at a sobbing Kathy Gravell. He promised he'd convene a meeting of the full board within a month to resolve the sticky matter once and for all.
"I'm sorry the family has to have this drawn out even longer," Woods said.
None of the cops who voted against Bill Gravell approached Kathy during the recess. They quickly left the room.
Kathy Gravell spent the night in Tucson with a friend--the widow of a federal agent whose name does appear on the Arizona honor roll of those "killed in the line of duty." Then Kathy drove back to Colorado in her little Toyota.
"I'll be back to see this through," she said. "I'll always be back."
A vote to honor Bill Gravell could be perceived as a direct slap at those who investigated his mysterious death.
"Bill Gravell may have committed suicide, he may have. I don't know if we'll ever know the answer or not."
"Try to think of that person that you love suddenly and violently dead.