May God Have Mercy (John C. Tucker): A True Story Of Crime And Punishment

1760 words - 7 pages

A true story of how a man was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death, May God Have Mercy exposes the imperfections in the criminal justice system and how it led to the death of an innocent man. Roger Coleman's case became the main story on nightly newscasts and prominent television shows such as Larry King Live, Nightline, Good Morning America, and the Today Show. Many crucial, yet harmful decisions were made that ultimately resulted in an innocent man's execution at the death house in Greensville, Virginia. The police, the prosecutor, and the Judge can all be held responsible for Coleman's death. However, the reason Roger Coleman was not acquitted of the murder of Wanda McCoy in the first place and thus in a position to be executed was because his original lawyers, Steve Arey and Terry Jordan, did not provide him with adequate representation, as required by the Constitution of the United States of America.Steve Arey and Terry Jordan were young, inexperienced lawyers who should have never even been considered for a capital case. Judge Persin, the presiding Judge in the case, however, decided on these two gentlemen because other more experienced lawyers refused to take the case because of the huge financial sacrifice it would require. Albeit public speculation that Judge Persin's previous profession as a prosecutor had led him to heavily favor the prosecution, his decision stood. The two prosecutors who Arey and Jordan would be opposed by were Mickey McGlothlin and Tom Scott. Both prosecutors had far more experience than the defense lawyers, but that didn't stop Judge Persin from appointing Arey and Jordan to the case. It was an obvious mismatch, intentional or not, and was just the beginning of many problems that would arise for the defendant's case.The murder of Wanda McCoy took place in Grundy, a small town in Virginia. The year was 1981, and Brad McCoy, Wanda's husband, arrived home from work to find his wife dead, the apparent victim of a brutal rape and murder. The police investigated the crime scene, recorded witness reports, and searched for suspects. When they identified their prime suspect, Roger Coleman, the police made the arrest. Due to the negative public opinion that had generated following the arrest, Coleman demanded that his lawyers file for a change of venue with the court. Since Grundy was such a small town, it would be very difficult to pick an impartial jury to give Coleman a fair trial. Every person in the town had to have read or seen something on the murder. The fact that the police provided supposed "conclusive" evidence against Roger Coleman and made it public, many of Grundy's residents wanted to see Coleman sentenced to death.Steve Arey had been preparing the case to present to Judge Persin, but at the last minute, he notified Terry Jordan that he would not be able to attend due to a prior engagement. Arey's lack of respect for Coleman and the case in general left Terry Jordan with a crucial decision--whether to seek...

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