Stripped from the headlines.











Bluegrass:  A True Story of Murder in Kentucky (364.152 M):  The murder of Katie Autry would seem to have it all, true-crime-wise. Attractive coed is raped and killed in her dorm room, and her corpse set afire. Authorities quickly determine she was at a frat party the night before, so the always-enjoyable drunken witnesses and suspects come into play. Then DNA evidence points to a high-school dropout who claims to have had consensual sex with her but later contends to have been forced to rape her by a pal he also fingers for the murder. Oddly, the coppers believe him.  A scathing look at a prosecution gone awfully wrong.

A Death in Belmont (364.1523 J):  Bessie Goldberg was strangled to death in her home in Belmont, a Boston suburb, in March of 1963—right in the middle of the Boston Strangler's killing spree. Her death has not usually been associated with the other Strangler killings because Roy Smith, a black man who was working in Goldberg's house that day, was convicted of her murder on strong circumstantial evidence. But another man was working in Belmont that day: Albert DeSalvo, who later confessed to being the Boston Strangler, was doing construction work in the home of Junger's parents (the author himself was a baby). Could DeSalvo have slipped away and killed Bessie Goldberg? Junger's taut narrative makes dizzying hairpin turns as he considers all the evidence for, and against, Smith or DeSalvo being Goldberg's killer; he also reviews the more familiar case for and against DeSalvo being the Strangler—for there are serious questions about his confession.

Outrage"  The Story Behind the Tawana Brawley Hoax (364.1523 O):  The Tawana Brawley case attracted national attention in 1987 when the black teenager from Wappingers Falls, N.Y., claimed that she had been kidnapped, gang-raped and defiled by white racists, among them law officers. Although subsequent investigation found her story to be a fabrication, a media circus erupted, focusing on charges of racial injustice and the antics of Brawley's legal advisers Al Sharpton, Alton Maddox and C. Vernon Mason. In an impressive expose that distills much new information from scores of interviews, McFadden and a team of fellow New York Times journalists present evidence that Brawley concocted her story, with her mother's complicity, because the teen had been on late-night escapades and feared beatings by her stepfather, a man who had fatally shot his ex-wife. Conveyed in cinematic style, this probe is notable for its fresh revelations and its perspectives on racism, politics and media distortion.

For Laci:  A Mother's Story of Love, Loss, and Justice (364.1523 R):  Laci Rocha Peterson, 8 months pregnant, was last seen by her sister, Amy, in the late afternoon of December 23, 2002. She spoke to her mother, Sharon Rocha, at 8:30 p.m. that night. This would be the last time anyone from her immediate family ever spoke to her.

A search began which lasted an agonizing four months. Sadly, Laci Peterson and her son Conner were found dead on the shores of San Francisco Bay on April 18, 2003.

Her husband, Scott, was eventually arrested and charged with the murder of Laci and Connor. After a sensational, media-saturated trial, Peterson was found guilty of capital murder and was sentenced to death on March 16, 2005.

This book deals with the story in three separate sections: first, Sharon describes the ordinary, loving life her daughter led, including fond memories of her childhood and adolescence. Second, it covers her marriage, disappearance, the community's moving search for her, and her and Connor's eventual recovery from San Francisco Bay. Third, it tells the story of the trial in detail not before revealed. Sharon will also talk about victim's rights, a subject on which she now campaigns regularly.

Until Proven Innocent:  Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case (364.1523 T):  Guilty until proven innocent was a concept expressed by Duke University's president Richard Brodhead, among others, betraying a stunning misapprehension of America's justice system in the case of the Duke lacrosse players wrongfully indicted for raping a black stripper in 2006. As well reported in detail by respected legal journalist Taylor and Brooklyn College historian Johnson, the facts of the case speak for themselves: rogue prosecutor Mike Nifong willfully disregarded evidence of the boys' innocence; Duke administrators hung the team members out to dry; much of Duke's faculty and the media rushed to assume guilt in the racially charged case (the New York Times comes in for special opprobrium). But these facts are embedded in repetitiously hammering home the basic points, sarcasm and ranting against the political correctness (i.e., obsession with the race-class-gender triad) of academia and the media. The authors challenge the academic credentials of the black faculty members who attacked the team and criticize the Times's Selena Roberts for choosing to live in lily white Westport, Conn. In total contrast, the closing chapters offer balanced, tautly argued discussions of, and remedies for, the central problems: prosecutorial abuse, the frequency of false rape accusations and academic groupthink.