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Conviction

Cover of Conviction

Conviction

Christopher Paget Series, Book 4
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Fifty-nine days. That's how long Rennell Price has to live - after spending fifteen years on death row for the horrifying sexual assault and murder of a girl whose body was found floating in San...More
Fifty-nine days. That's how long Rennell Price has to live - after spending fifteen years on death row for the horrifying sexual assault and murder of a girl whose body was found floating in San...More
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  • Fifty-nine days. That's how long Rennell Price has to live - after spending fifteen years on death row for the horrifying sexual assault and murder of a girl whose body was found floating in San Francisco Bay. But attorney Terri Paget has dedicated her life to fighting for people like Rennell Price. This time, Terri has a client she believes may actually be innocent, which means that an unpunished killer may still be free.

    Rennell, along with his older brother, Payton, was found guilty of the heinous crime, and the conviction has been upheld through one appeal after another. But as Terri spends time with Rennell and re-creates the events that put him on death row, she starts to understand the forces that shaped Rennell and the reason he has never been able to defend himself adequately.

    As Terri prepares for a last appeal, she gets a new weapon for her battle - fresh evidence suggesting that another man, not Rennell, helped Payton commit the atrocity. But the grim machinery of capital punishment is already in motion. As more people are drawn into Terri's last-ditch battle, this much is clear: The serious doubts about Rennell's guilt may not be enough to save him.

    Conviction raises issues of ethics, political expediency, and personal trauma that will shake readers to their core. Patterson illuminates the mysterious precincts between justice and truth - where the fate of one man involves not only his own life and the lives he has affected but the moral life of a nation.

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    CONVICTION
    Chapter One

    In fifty-nine days, if the State of California had its way, the man inside the Plexiglas booth would die by lethal injection.

    Teresa Peralta Paget paused to study him, the guard quiet at her side. Her new client stood with his back to them. He was bulky, the blue prison shirt covering his broad back like an oversize bolt of cloth. A picture of enthrallment, he gazed through the high window of the exterior wall at the San Francisco Bay, its water glistening in the afternoon sun. She was reluctant to distract him; the man's sole glimpses of the world outside, Terri knew, occurred when his lawyers came to see him.

    The others were out of it now; the last set of lawyers had withdrawn after their latest defeat. The final desperate efforts to keep Rennell Price alive--what she thought of as the ritual death spasms ordained by the legal system--had fallen to Teresa Paget. This was their first meeting: but for his solitude, she could not have picked her client out from the other men huddled with their lawyers in the two rows of Plexiglas cubicles. It resembled, Terri thought, an exhibit of the damned--sooner or later, in months, or more likely years, the impersonal, inexorable grinding of the machinery of death would consume each one in turn.

    But perhaps not, Terri promised herself, this one. At least not until she had burnt herself down to the nerve ends, sleep-deprived from the effort to save him.

    To her new client, she supposed, Terri might appear a mere morsel for the machine, insufficient even to slow its gears. She was small--barely five feet four--and slight, with olive skin and a sculpted face, which her husband stubbornly insisted was beautiful: high cheekbones; a delicate chin; a ridged nose too pronounced for her liking; straight black hair, which, in Terri's mind, she shared with several million other Latinas far more striking than she. There was little about her to suggest the steeliness an inmate might hope for in his lawyer except, perhaps, the green-flecked brown eyes, which even when she smiled never quite lost their keenness, or their watchfulness.

    This wariness was Terri's birthright, the reflex of a child schooled by the volatile chemistry which transformed her father's drinking to bru- tality, and reinforced by the miserable first marriage which Terri, who had no better model, had chosen as the solution to her pregnancy with Elena. Her personal life was different now. As if to compensate for this good fortune, she had turned her career down a path more arduous than most lawyers could endure: at thirty-nine, she had spent the last seven years representing death row inmates, a specialty which virtually guaranteed the opposition and, quite frequently, the outright hostility of judges, prosecutors, witnesses, cops, governors, most relatives of the victim, and by design, the legal system itself--not to mention, often, her own clients. Now that stress and anxiety no longer waited for her at home, Terri sometimes thought, she had sought them out.

    What would be most stressful about this client was not the crime of which he stood convicted, though it was far more odious than most-- especially, given certain facts, to Terri herself. Nor was it whatever version of humanity this man turned out to be: her death row clients had run the gamut from peaceable through schizophrenic to barking mad. But this client represented the rarest and most draining kind of all: for fifteen years, through a trial court conviction in 1987, then a chain of defeats in the California Supreme Court, the Federal District Court, the Federal Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme Court, Rennell Price had claimed his...
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Payton and Rennell Price are sentenced to death for the brutal murder of 9-year-old Thuy Sen, who choked to death on semen. Now, 15 years later, pro bono lawyer Theresa Peralta Page has 59 days to find factual, legal, or moral error and determine if a reliable sentence was rendered, possibly saving her client from execution. Patricia Kalember narrates with such subtle nuance about the doubts that exist in the case that each time we hear Rennell Price say, "I didn't do that little girl," it becomes eerily evident that being innocent may not be enough to save his life. Orwellian legal complexities of the death penalty, so brilliantly presented, serve to raise compelling and challenging questions. K.A.T. (c) AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine
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Christopher Paget Series, Book 4
Richard North Patterson
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Christopher Paget Series, Book 4
Richard North Patterson
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