The True Story of a Convicted Murderer and the Lawyers Who Fought for His Freedom
Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist!
In this remarkable legal page-turner, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Barry Siegel recounts the dramatic, decades-long saga of Bill Macumber, imprisoned for thirty-eight years for a double homicide he denies committing. In the spring of 1962, a school bus full of students stumbled across a mysterious crime scene on an isolated stretch of Arizona desert: an abandoned car and two bodies. This brutal murder of a young couple bewildered the sheriff's department of Maricopa County for years. Despite a few promising leads—including several chilling confessions from Ernest Valenzuela, a violent repeat offender—the case went cold. More than a decade later, a clerk in the sheriff's department, Carol Macumber, came forward to tell police that her estranged husband had confessed to the murders. Though the evidence linking Bill Macumber to the incident was questionable, he was arrested and charged with the crime. During his trial, the judge refused to allow the confession of now-deceased Ernest Valenzuela to be admitted as evidence in part because of the attorney-client privilege. Bill Macumber was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
The case, rife with extraordinary irregularities, attracted the sustained involvement of the Arizona Justice Project, one of the first and most respected of the nonprofit groups that represent victims of manifest injustice across the country. With more twists and turns than a Hollywood movie, Macumber's story illuminates startling, upsetting truths about our justice system, which kept a possibly innocent man locked up for almost forty years, and introduces readers to the generations of dedicated lawyers who never stopped working on his behalf, lawyers who ultimately achieved stunning results. With precise journalistic detail, intimate access and masterful storytelling, Barry Siegel will change your understanding of American jurisprudence, police procedure, and what constitutes justice in our country today.
Listen to Barry's interview on the Four O'Clock Wednesdays with Jon Wiener show
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"Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Siegel leaves little room to doubt the innocence of Bill Macumber in this moving and powerful story of a Kafkaesque justice system gone awry.... Reminiscent of Errol Morris's compelling investigation into the dubious proceedings of the Jeffrey MacDonald case in A Wilderness of Error, Siegel's detailed rendering of the decades of efforts on Macumber's behalf makes the horror of his situation resonate." Starred Review —Publishers Weekly
"Siegel creates a gripping narrative nonfiction treatment of what led to Macumber, a man with no connection to the murders, being convicted a decade after the killings, long after a confession by a repeat offender . . .The entries Siegel includes from Macumber's prison diaries are heart-breaking in the day-to-day revelations of how he has kept his spirit and determination alive....On November 7, 2012, Macumber, now 77, was suddenly released from prison, which adds to the force of Siegel's arguments and the outrage his advocacy journalism inspires about wrongful convictions and the fissures in the justice system." Starred Review —Booklist
"This book is a must-read for students of crime and criminology." Starred Review —Library Journal
"If it were simply a story of virtue's triumph over adversity, Manifest Injustice would be both important and highly readable. But—without providing spoiler information here—its denouement is more complex and its conclusions are more nuanced. Pity the reader who bails out early." —Los Angeles Times (read the full review)
"In the electrifying legal page-turned Manifest Injustice, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Barry Siegel...brilliantly creates for the reader the essence of a jury trial: two sides, two narratives, two bodies of evidence and two theories of interpretation. Manifest Injustice stays with the reader long after the last page for it is not just a story of one man, but a fascinating indictment of our judicial system as a whole." —NY Journal of Books
"Siegel's book is journalism at its best, a haunting, lucid, rigorously researched account of a multifaceted tragedy born of the murders of a young couple off a lover's lane in the desert near Scottsdale, Ariz., on a warm May night in 1962...It is a story of the worst and best of humanities—from a woman whose scorn for her estranged husband led to his conviction for the murders, to a psychopathic killer who repeatedly confessed to the crime, to prosecutors and judges who relied upon a legal principle of dubious applicability to prevent two juries from learning about those confessions, and to dedicated lawyers who relentlessly championed justice for a man they believed innocent." —Chicago Tribune (read the full review)
"A fascinating, convoluted murder mystery demonstrating that the law should never be confused with common sense." —Kirkus Reviews
"For fans of John Grisham, Harlan Coben and Michael Connelly and for true crime fans. Bill Macumber was imprisoned for nearly 40 years for a crime he denied committing. In a fast-paced, suspenseful style which enhances the intriguing facts of this true story, journalist Barry Siegel recounts Macumber's long and twisted road to justice." —The Sun Star Courier
"Manifest Injustice is a piece of masterful storytelling. Readers won't soon forget this harrowing tale of crime and punishment in America today, or the man imprisoned for thirty-eight years for a crime he vehemently denies committing." —Gay Talese
Henry Holt and Co, Hardcover, January 2013, ISBN: 978-0805094152