Monday, June 17, 2019

the last book I ever read (Casey Cep's Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, excerpt two)

from Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep:

It was in the middle of this debacle that the state attorney general, Thomas Knight, contacted some toxicologists at what was then Alabama Polytechnic Institute but would later become Auburn University. Knight felt that the mishandling of the Scottsboro Boys case might have been avoided had the authorities gathered and assessed the evidence scientifically. By way of a counterexample, he pointed to the scrupulous methods used in another of the era’s most notorious criminal cases: the 1935 conviction of Bruno Hauptmann for the abduction and murder of the infant son of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. That latter case set a standard the state should strive for, Knight felt, and he encouraged prosecutors and law enforcement officers around Alabama to send evidence to Dr. Hubert Nixon, a professor in the agricultural laboratory, and Dr. Carl Rehling, a professor of chemistry. Within a few years, the Alabama Legislature had officially allocated funds for a special forensic laboratory. “It is not our purpose to prove guilt or innocence,” Dr. Rehling said of the lab, “but to present the facts.”

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