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CONVICTING AVERY

THE BIZARRE LAWS AND BROKEN SYSTEM BEHIND "MAKING A MURDERER"

Will engage fans of the series and readers who wonder if prosecutors really do cut corners in their campaigns against...

Rebuttal of the case against Steven Avery, from a defense attorney who sees larger patterns of malfeasance in Wisconsin justice.

Cicchini (Tried and Convicted: How Police, Prosecutors, and Judges Destroy Our Constitutional Rights, 2012, etc.), who assumes readers' familiarity with the popular Netflix series Making a Murderer, views the shady prosecutorial moves central to the documentary as typical of his state overall: “We defense lawyers are rarely bored….Wisconsin loves its massive, draconian, ever-expanding and increasingly irrational criminal justice industrial complex.” The author relitigates Avery’s troubling conviction by walking back through the cases against him, both chronologically and in terms of the procedural and evidentiary issues raised, adding legal depth to key points raised in the documentary. Many of these issues have nationwide resonance, such as eyewitness misidentification, which resulted in Avery’s initial wrongful conviction for sexual assault. As the author notes, “Avery learned that his sixteen-witness alibi defense was far from airtight; the prosecutor defeated it with a single eyewitness.” Another issue defense attorneys regard more dubiously than the general public concerns police interrogations leading to false confessions; here, the self-incrimination notoriously elicited from Avery’s pliable, juvenile nephew is examined in terms of the manipulative techniques used by zealous detectives. Cicchini argues that despite the culturally reassuring Miranda warning, “police interrogations are a guilt-presumptive process.” As in the documentary, the author regards officials’ handling of DNA and physical evidence as most suggestive of possible corrupt behavior to frame Avery, who was pursuing a lawsuit for wrongful conviction against Manitowoc County at the time of his arrest. He additionally examines suspicious intricacies within Wisconsin’s bail, preliminary hearing, and appellate procedures. Overall, Cicchini makes his case clearly. Although he’s enthusiastic about picking apart the prosecution’s narrative, his discussion of legal principles is occasionally technical, and specific case comparisons would have bolstered his insinuation that Wisconsin is an ominous legal backwater.

Will engage fans of the series and readers who wonder if prosecutors really do cut corners in their campaigns against serious criminals.

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63388-255-3

Page Count: 220

Publisher: Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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IN COLD BLOOD

"There's got to be something wrong with somebody who'd do a thing like that." This is Perry Edward Smith, talking about himself. "Deal me out, baby...I'm a normal." This is Richard Eugene Hickock, talking about himself. They're as sick a pair as Leopold and Loeb and together they killed a mother, a father, a pretty 17-year-old and her brother, none of whom they'd seen before, in cold blood. A couple of days before they had bought a 100 foot rope to garrote them—enough for ten people if necessary. This small pogrom took place in Holcomb, Kansas, a lonesome town on a flat, limitless landscape: a depot, a store, a cafe, two filling stations, 270 inhabitants. The natives refer to it as "out there." It occurred in 1959 and Capote has spent five years, almost all of the time which has since elapsed, in following up this crime which made no sense, had no motive, left few clues—just a footprint and a remembered conversation. Capote's alternating dossier Shifts from the victims, the Clutter family, to the boy who had loved Nancy Clutter, and her best friend, to the neighbors, and to the recently paroled perpetrators: Perry, with a stunted child's legs and a changeling's face, and Dick, who had one squinting eye but a "smile that works." They had been cellmates at the Kansas State Penitentiary where another prisoner had told them about the Clutters—he'd hired out once on Mr. Clutter's farm and thought that Mr. Clutter was perhaps rich. And this is the lead which finally broke the case after Perry and Dick had drifted down to Mexico, back to the midwest, been seen in Kansas City, and were finally picked up in Las Vegas. The last, even more terrible chapters, deal with their confessions, the law man who wanted to see them hanged, back to back, the trial begun in 1960, the post-ponements of the execution, and finally the walk to "The Corner" and Perry's soft-spoken words—"It would be meaningless to apologize for what I did. Even inappropriate. But I do. I apologize." It's a magnificent job—this American tragedy—with the incomparable Capote touches throughout. There may never have been a perfect crime, but if there ever has been a perfect reconstruction of one, surely this must be it.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 1965

ISBN: 0375507906

Page Count: 343

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1965

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