In early 1982, an elderly widow had been found brutally beaten to death in a small town in South Carolina. The woman was white. Nearly immediately, a man named Edward Lee Elmore - a black man that was illiterate and mildly mentally retarded - was arrested. Within 90 days of his arrest, he had been tried and sentenced to seat (CRAZY!!!). Within 11 years, however, Elmore had netted a young attorney named Diana Holt, a spitfire who was convinced that Elmore was innocent and was dead set on getting him a new trial.
I am not shocked at how difficult it was to unring the bell in a capital case - but that's because of what I do. I know that the courts are very cautious in their review of lower court cases and jury trials. So that aspect of the story didn't really surprise me at all. I thought that Richard Bonner had a way with words and a really nice way of telling the story, which made the entire thing fascinating. It was obvious that he had done his homework and his research and in doing so, was able to give us a very thorough and accessible account of Elmore's trial and the appeals process. This book is a must read because it is an educational primer about the criminal justice system, the death penalty and why it could all go so wrong.