Story Of A Murder Trial Sparknotes

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The Story Of A Murder Trial begins on July 28, 1972, when a black man by the name of James Richardson was approached by the off-duty white police officer John Skagen in the subway. Skagen ordered Richardson up against a wall, and while attempting to conduct a search Richardson pulled a gun and the two exchanged gunfire. Richardson in a panic fled up the subway staircase shouting “A crazy man is shooting at me!”. Two uniformed police officers saw Skagen, gun in hand chasing Richardson, they then fatally shot Skagen 3 times. It was Steven Phillips’ the author of the books job to build the prosecution's case against Richardson. Was this a desperate man's attempt to escape death or a calculated maneuver to escape authority. The case as seen through …show more content…

The autopsy report stated that officer Skagen’s body had five entry wounds, two exit wounds, and one re-entry wound, however, only four bullets were recovered from the body. James Richardson was then arrested and charged with a felony murder, manslaughter in the second degree, attempted murder,
And charged with criminal possession of stolen property in the third degree, reckless endangerment in the second degree, escape in the second degree, felony murder, attempted manslaughter in the second degree, attempted murder, and felony possession of a weapon. Richardson was then assigned a man named William Kunstler as a defense attorney. And at his arraignment, Richardson’s bail was initially set at fifty thousand dollars.
William Kunstler, unlike the author and prosecutor of the case Steven Phillips was a well seasoned and experienced lawyer. A very popular and well-liked human rights lawyer, respected among his peers. Phillips, on the other hand had just been appointed as assistant DA a few months before receiving the …show more content…

In total Richardson’s trial was delayed for twenty-seven months before it began. The trial was long and was delayed numerous times due to Kunstler’s busy schedule with other trial cases deemed more important. Delaying the case was also part of Kunstler’s defense strategy. The longer he delayed the case the weaker the case of the prosecutor became. In the court system the longer a case is delayed the harder it becomes for the prosecutor to get a conviction. In Phillips own words he states “delay is a double-edged sword that often hurts the prosecution and helps the defendants as the other around. Prosecutors hate delay, for it inevitably weakens and sometimes even destroys their cases. In time, memories fade, or disappear altogether. Often important witnesses vanish, lose interest or die. The passage of time has ruined many strong cases, and many a guilty man has been acquitted because of delay”. Phillips describes how delay is a severe flaw in the criminal justice system. It hurts the innocent, and gives comfort to the guilty. It serves no useful

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