From Pulitzer Prize winner Raymond Bonner comes 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. His only connection to the victim was having cleaned her gutters and windows, but 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. After attending the University of Texas School of Law, Holt was eager to help the disenfranchised and voiceless - she herself had been a childhood victim of abuse. It required little scrutiny for Holt to discern that Elmore’s case reeked of injustice - plagued by incompetent court-appointed defense attorneys, a virulent prosecution, and evidence that was both misplaced and contaminated. It was the cause of a lifetime for the spirited, hardworking lawyer. 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. He reviews police work, evidence gathering, jury selection, work of court-appointed lawyers, latitude of judges, iniquities in the law, prison informants, and the appeals process. Throughout, the actions and motivations of both unlikely heroes and shameful villains in our justice system are vividly revealed.
Moving, enraging, suspenseful, and enlightening, Anatomy of Injustice is a vital contribution to our nation’s ongoing and increasingly important debate about inequality and the death penalty.
“This is seductive storytelling at its best.” (Sister Helen Prejean, New York Times bestselling author of Dead Man Walking)
“Explosive…Told with a reporter’s tenacity, a lawyer’s acumen, and an advocate’s zeal, this book is both a gripping narrative and a chilling indictment of America’s justice system.” (Tony Horwitz, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist)
“Fascinating…Anatomy of Injustice reads like a novel, but it is, tragically, all too true.” (Linda Greenhouse, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist)
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