From Pulitzer Prize–winner Raymond Bonner, the gripping story of a grievously mishandled murder case that put a twenty-three-year-old man on death row.
In January 1982, an elderly white widow was found brutally murdered in the small town of Greenwood, South Carolina. Police immediately arrested Edward Lee Elmore, a semiliterate, mentally retarded black man with no previous felony record whose only connection to the victim was having cleaned her gutters and windows. Barely ninety days after the victim’s body was found, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. Elmore had been on death row for eleven years when a young attorney named Diana Holt first learned of his case. It required little scrutiny for Holt, a UT Law graduate, to discern that Elmore’s case—plagued by incompetent court-appointed defense attorneys, a virulent prosecution, and both misplaced and contaminated evidence—reeked of injustice. Holt would spend more than a decade fighting on Elmore’s behalf.
With the exemplary moral commitment and tenacious investigation that have distinguished his reporting career, Bonner follows Holt’s battle to save Elmore’s life and shows us how his case is a textbook example of what can go wrong in the American justice system.
Raymond Bonner practiced law for a decade and taught at the University of California, Davis, School of Law. He later became an investigative reporter and foreign correspondent for The New York Times, where he was a member of a Pulitzer Prize–winning team in 1999, and a staff writer at The New Yorker. He has also written for The Economist and The New York Review of Books, and blogs at the Daily Beast and theatlantic.com. He is the author of many other books, including Weakness and Deceit: U.S. Policy and El Salvador, which received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.
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