May God Have Mercy: a True Story of Crime and Punishment


May God Have Mercy: a True Story of Crime and Punishment is a bone-shaking story as indicated by myriad scholars that have read the story. It focuses on injustices committed in criminal courts. For instance, the haphazard ways of handling criminal cases and coming up with immediate conclusions. The author, John C. Tucker, being a practicing lawyer, clearly states out what is experienced in the courts of law. It also captures the irony behind everyone’s understanding that the International Criminal Court is perfect.

This paper provides a review of John C. Tucker’s May God Have Mercy: a True Story of Crime and Punishment. The book tells the story of a crime that took place in a mining town in the interior of Virginia where Wanda Fay McCoy, a 19-year-old woman, was raped, strangled, and brutally murdered by an unknown person. Her head was severed partly coming off her body, and she bled to death. Wanda, who was then twenty-two years was the sister in-law of Roger Coleman.

Earlier on, it had been alleged that Coleman had raped a woman that resulted in his incarceration. The police officers had no need to investigate the matter since they believed that Coleman committed the murder. Thus, Coleman was arrested and arraigned in court without investigation or proof concerning the murder. The arrest was done basing on allegations.

These incidences appear so much in order that one could think they were stage-managed. It is assumed that, that evening, Coleman was the only possible man that visited Wanda and most apparent the one who committed the murder. Coleman does not seem disturbed. Instead, he summons his lawyer, Kitty Behan, to defend him over the case. Despite having enough evidence for Colman’s innocence, Behan was not given time and the chance to defend him. Instead, the court quickly sentenced Coleman to death.

While Coleman was awaiting his sentence in jail, Behan took a chance to seek more evidence to set his client free. The media, on the other part, and the private citizens were heavily advocating for justice and the release of Coleman. It is amazing how Coleman's lawyer called him to undergo a DNA test for purposes of ascertaining his innocence. Ironically, Coleman rejected the test saying that he was on the verge of death. He said that one of the women had already seduced him, and this could be the set trap. He claimed that they would use the semen sample from the woman and claim it came from the victim. This emanated unexpectedly because everyone would have expected an innocent person to come out fast for such tests. Notably, everyone doubts Coleman’s innocence. However, Behan still held on, and fought to liberate Coleman.

DNA tests were finally successful in 1990, but had defects. They proved Coleman’s innocence. Despite the difficult hustle by Behan to set Coleman free, the death sentence materialized when Coleman was hanged eventually. On the final day of the court, Behan challenged the democracy of the court and provided more evidence to protect his client, but it was all futile.

The story ideally points at injustices that are commonly committed in the justice sector. It outlines the shoddy jobs done by investigators and the incomplete baseless rulings made in some courts of law.  From the story, it is clear that Coleman was arrestedin a manner not permissible by law. On the other hand, Behan was more inclined on securing the freedom of his client, and that is why he went to the extent of suggesting a DNA test. However, recent research shows that Coleman was guilty following a reliable DNA test done in 2006, long after he was executed.

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