March 26, 2012
Raymond Bonner, an award-winning journalist and author, spoke on his new book, Anatomy of Injustice: A Murder Case Gone Wrong, on March 13, 2012, at McGeorge in a public lecture sponsored by the Faculty Development Committee.
The book, published last month by Knopf, tells the story of Edward Lee Elmore, a semi-literate, mentally retarded man who spent 28 years on South Carolina's death row. Elmore was convicted three times of killing an elderly woman when he was 23 years old, but appeals courts overturned each verdict. Bonner contends the case was badly mishandled by all parties involved in the original trial.
Ironically, Elmore had to plead guilty to the crime on March 2, 2012, to avoid a new trial and gain his freedom — for time served, said the prosecutors. Bonner's book is a devastating expose of a rush-to-judgment in the criminal justice system. The Stanford Law graduate also highlights the work of a young attorney whose persistence ultimately won Elmore's release.
Bonner, who practiced with two public interest groups and the San Francisco District Attorney's Office before entering journalism, was in the Greenwood, South Carolina, courtroom earlier this month where Elmore's agony finally ended.
"Don't dare call it justice," he said. "A man served 30 years for a crime he did not commit." Bonner, who followed the case for more than a decade, said police were anxious to make an arrest to quiet community concerns about a murderer among them and the little evidence that links Elmore to the crime was planted.
Bonner is best known as an investigative journalist whose articles broke major stories on the El Salvador civil war, the war in Bosnia, and the genocide in Rwanda.