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Formats
paperback, e-book Details
  • June 2014
  • 13: 978-1499175752
  • 290 pages
  • $$20
DARK SPELL: Surviving the Sentence

   “Dark Spell,” the second book in Leveritt’s trilogy about the infamous case of the West Memphis Three, picks up where her best-selling “Devil's Knot” left off. She follows Jason Baldwin, skinny and near blind, into the adult penitentiary he entered at sixteen. Few expect him to last in that violent place, especially in light of his conviction for having murdered children as part of a Satanic ritual.

   But Jason endures. He prevails over nights of loneliness and days of hatred and abuse to earn the respect of guards and prisoners alike. By accompanying Jason through this hard coming-of-age, readers learn—as Jason must—that the realities of his own trial, beleaguered appeals, and life in prison bear almost no resemblance to the spic-and-span civics he studied in school.

   At first, Jason survives on his own. Then an unknown “friend” writes a letter. Slowly, with the passage of years, support for the West Memphis Three develops. A global citizenry arises to lend encouragement, money and, finally, essential legal acumen. Knowing now how stealthily “justice” can move, however officiously it may come cloaked, Jason welcomes this needed help. Even so, as this second book ends, the powers that have thrown him into an isolation cell still loom dark indeed.

Reviews
Investigative reporter Leveritt follows up her 2002 work about the West Memphis Three, Devil’s Knot, with the second in her Justice Knot Trilogy. This time she focuses on Jason Baldwin, one of the three young men accused of murdering three boys in Alabama in 1993. Leveritt uses interviews, public records, and Baldwin’s own recollections to recreate his life leading up to the arrest and trial as well as his extended stint in prison. It’s clear Leveritt believes that Baldwin was wrongfully accused, and she emphasizes the many irregularities in the trial and subsequent legal wranglings, while portraying Baldwin as an essentially decent person caught up in events far beyond his control. Between Baldwin’s first-hand experiences and Leveritt’s own pointed interpretation of the events, readers will be outraged by what seems to be a grievous failure of the justice system. Some of the material becomes repetitive, as Baldwin is transferred from one prison to another for nearly two decades. Meanwhile, support in the outside world grows to a fever pitch, leading to a reexamination of the evidence. A powerful look at how the wrong agenda can thoroughly undermine the justice system, this book is bound to be of interest to true-crime readers. (BookLife)
Formats
paperback, e-book Details
  • June 2014
  • 13: 978-1499175752
  • 290 pages
  • $$20

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