May God Have Mercy: A True Story of Crime and Punishment is a book by John Tucker. In this book, Tucker tells the story of Ronald Coleman, a man sentenced to death for murdering his sister-in-law. A dedicated lawyer by the name Kitty Behan tried to prove the innocence of Coleman. According to Tucker (1998), Behan spent two years gathering enough evidence to prove her point but the courts could not hear the new evidence. Coleman was electrocuted on Virginia’s electric chair ten years later for his alleged crime. John Tucker, a practicing lawyer, concludes that the whole story is an emotional chain of events. According to him, the judges and prosecutors who sentenced Roger Coleman to death need God’s Mercy. This essay provides a review of the book May God Have Mercy: A True Story of Crime and Punishment by John Tucker.
The book starts by explaining the events surrounding the death of Wanda Fay McCoy, Coleman’s sister-in-law. Her attacker raped her, and after severely wounding her, left her to die on the bedroom floor after bleeding to death. The local police narrowed had one suspect in mind, Roger Coleman. Their suspicions were right since Coleman’s criminal record was not clean. All the facts seem to point towards him as the murderer. The prosecutors rushed through the case despite some evidence appearing shaky. The police did not pursue any other suspects. Coleman was found guilty and sentenced to die.
Tucker (1998) denotes that, many entities tried to prove his innocence, for example, the media, his lawyers as well as, other private citizens. The courts refused to hear new witnesses citing technicalities. This story is disturbing and raises many doubts concerning the American justice system. John C. Tucker narrates a chilling story meant to challenge the views of most Americans. His detailed information describes the circumstances that led to trial, the evidence by the police, and the process followed by the investigators in the whole process. He does an excellent job trying to convince the readers about Donald Coleman’s innocence. Readers would find it easy following the story because the texts are simple.
In my view, prosecutors should not rush such cases. Whether or not Coleman was innocent, the judges and prosecutors should have taken more time to analyze the case and listen to the fresh evidence and witnesses introduced by Kitty Behan. A number of issues in the case were of serious concern. For example, why did Coleman refuse to take a blood test? I believe that anyone who is innocent would have jumped at such an opportunity. Why was he afraid? The test could probably have exonerated him for some time. His claim that the authority could frame his was unfounded. I also wonder why Coleman took the lie-detector test on the last day before his death. These are among the many questions that raises doubt in this case. Moreover, why did the police narrow down to one suspect despite there being others? They should have pursued other suspects to diversify their options.
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While this is an excellent story by John Tucker, I do not recommend it to those who study law. Many questions remain unanswered. However, it is an excellent book to read for leisure purposes since it narrates the story in a detailed manner. Although I agree that the case was rushed, it does not mean that Coleman was innocent. DNA tests proved that he was guilty despite various loopholes in the case. The main theme carried in this book is that of judicial injustice. The author tries to convince readers that Coleman was innocent. The book appealed to me emotionally, but I could not deduce whether Coleman was innocent or not. Random House Publishing Group published the most recent edition of the book with ISBN-13:9780385332941 and it costs approximately 12 dollars.
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