cover image Dark Spell: Surviving the Sentence

Dark Spell: Surviving the Sentence

Mara Leveritt, with Jason Baldwin. Bird Call Press, $20 trade paper (290p) ISBN 978-1-4991-7575-2

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)