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May God Have Mercy: A True Story of Crime and Punishment
May God Have Mercy A True Story of Crime and Punishment Author:John C. Tucker A murder mystery that provides a chilling and heartbreaking glimpse into the workings of justice in the United States. Was Roger Coleman a cold-blooded murderer? or the victim of a judicial system that cares more about procedural guidelines than guilt and innocence? "The courts have so far failed Coleman miserably. . . . With so many questions... more » still outstanding, what's the big rush to end Coleman's life?"--Time cover story, May 18, 1992 (two days before Coleman's execution) In some states by law, in others by tradition, judges imposing a sentence of death complete the grim ritual with the words "May God have mercy on your soul." In 1982, in Grundy, Virginia, a young miner named Roger Coleman was sentenced to death for the murder of his sister-in-law. Ten years later, the sentence was carried out, despite the extraordinary efforts of Kitty Behan, a brilliant and dedicated young lawyer who devoted two years of her life to gathering evidence of Coleman's innocence, evidence so compelling that media around the world came to question the verdict. The courts, ruling on technicalities, refused to hear the new evidence and witnesses. Finally, the governor of Virginia ordered a lie-detector test to be administered on the morning of Coleman's scheduled execution, and in a chair that to Coleman surely looked like nothing so much as an electric chair. In John Tucker's telling, this story is an emotional and unforgettable roller-coaster ride from the awful night of the crime to the equally awful night of the execution. Perhaps it was not Roger Coleman whose soul was in need of God's mercy but the judges, prosecutors, and politicians who procured his death.« less
If you only examined the case from the author's viewpoint you would think his execution was a gross miscarriage of justice. DNA tests have confirmed the guilt of a Roger Coleman. He proclaimed he was innocent of murder and rape even as he was strapped into the electric chair and executed more than a decade ago. The results stunned and disappointed those who have fought a 25-year crusade to prove that Roger K. Coleman was innocent. They also dashed hopes among death penalty foes that the case would catalyze opposition to capital punishment across the country. The tests show there is a one in 19 million chance that semen found on the victim's body belonged to someone other than Roger Coleman. As fiction, it would have been a good read. Unfortunately, this is nonfiction and misses the mark.