Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Music: Chris Pérez never saw it coming. “All I ever wanted to do was play guitar,” he told the Current. “I never thought I’d be the subject of an interview... By Enrique Lopetegui 8/28/2013

Best Romantic Restaurant

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
Best Happy Hour

Best Happy Hour

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
5 Awesome Ways to Survive on Ramen

5 Awesome Ways to Survive on Ramen

College Guide 2013: Nearly every college student has lived off of ramen noodles at one point or another. What a lot of them didn’t know was that the classic just-add-water... By Mary Caithn Scott 8/20/2013

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email



Cover 06/12/2013

Murder Destroyed Charity Lee's Family, Forever Altered Her Concept of Justice





Paris and Ella, ages 10 and 2

Lee is now dedicated to addressing another aspect of violent crime’s collateral damage — children of incarcerated parents. Last month, she began a therapeutic writing workshop with local children of parents sentenced to prison, planning to publish a book of their stories to circulate around Texas jails and prisons.

To the kids gathered at Greater Faith Church last month, Lee said, “I bet y’all have some great, important stories to tell.”

Then she told them her own.

“I have someone I love very much who’s in prison,” she said. “My son is in prison. Six years ago, he killed his little sister.” The room was silent.

“He’s going to be in prison for a very long time.”


Violence followed Charity Lee from the very beginning.

In the summer of 1980, when Lee was just six years old, police found the body of her father, Bobby Bennett Jr., in his home outside Atlanta, Ga., shot several times in the back of the head; police thought it looked like an execution.

Lee’s mother, Kyla Bennett, soon became a prime suspect in the murder. Although the couple had been separated for some time, they remarried just 57 hours before the murder during a whirlwind trip to Las Vegas, Nev. Lee’s mother stood to take over the family’s lucrative trucking business if anything happened to Bennett Jr.

Authorities eventually charged Kyla Bennett with hiring a hit man to kill her husband. During the course of the widely covered and sensational trial, prosecutors put on evidence that in the months before her husband’s murder, Lee’s mother had discussed arranging his killing with a part-time truck driver.

A jury later acquitted her.

By the time Lee was a teenager, she was hooked on heroin. At age 17, her mother finally kicked her out. “She gave me $100 and told me I could either use it to find help or to score and find a place to overdose.”

Lee compromised, spending half on drugs and the rest on gas to get to a halfway house in Chattanooga, Tenn. She was clean for about a year when she enrolled at the University of Tennessee. But Lee still felt the awful cravings. “I was miserable. I kept thinking that it just should not be this hard.”

Lee made a deal with herself. If she still felt dismal in three months, she’d commit suicide by overdosing. About a month before her self-imposed deadline, Lee found out she was pregnant with Paris.

“Paris changed everything,” she said. “I mean, he saved my life.”

In the years that followed, Lee stayed clean. She lived briefly in Alabama, where she met Jonathan Smith and the two had a daughter, Ella. Their relationship soon fizzled, and in 2005 she moved the kids to Dallas to be closer to her mother, who had just been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Lee had been working long nights to get a concert promotions business off the ground when she relapsed on cocaine, something that deeply troubled Paris, who was then 11 years old.

“It was like a good six-month period I was back using,” Lee said. “I know it had an impact on him. … It’s the one thing, that huge regret I wish I could go back and change.”

Recently in News
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus