Monday, December 12, 2005

A Short Story
You're sleeping peacefully one night in your duplex apartment. Your 18-month-old daughter sleeps peacefully in the next room. Suddenly, somebody breaks down your front door. We all know that small, innocuous sounds can bring terror when they wrench you awake. The smash of a battering ram is like being struck by lightning in your sleep.

In those first few heart-exploding seconds, you're as frightened for your daughter's safety as you are for your own. Maybe more so. What the hell is going on?

Seconds later the terror multiplies a thousandfold. An intruder breaks down the door of your bedroom.

This is serious. You've got a gun under your bed and you use it. The intruder is wounded.

It turns out that the intruders were cops. They had a warrant to arrest your duplex neighbor but broke down the wrong door. (You have no criminal record, and their warrant doesn't mention you at all.)

Horrible mistake.

The intruder you shot turns out to be the son of your town's police chief.

He was white, by the way. You're black.

He dies.

And you live in Mississippi.

So naturally, you're in some serious goddamn trouble.

After the trial, it comes out that the jurors very much disliked your lawyer. She suggested that if they didn't show mercy to you, God might not show mercy to them when they meet him in heaven. (Not the best way to sway a Mississippi jury, perhaps, but you did have the facts of the case on your side.) And also, they thought you were spoiled by your upbringing and not respectful of elders and authority figures.

So they convicted you. Of capital murder.

And today, four years later, you're sitting on death row. Partly because you had a poor lawyer, partly because you didn't shuffle and bow enough, but mostly because you defended yourself and your daughter against midnight intruders you had no way of knowing were cops.

Your name is Cory Maye.

All around the Internet today, bloggers red and blue are trying to bring attention to the Maye case. And when people who can't agree on anything else can agree that the Maye case is a gross miscarriage of justice, it certainly must be.

(Original info from The Agitator; encouragement to blog about it from Battlepanda via Pandagon. Cross-posted at Gather.com and Best of the Blogs.)

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