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The Desert Murders

Title The Desert Murders
Subtitle "How Junk Science, Witness Contamination, and Arizona Politics Condemned an Innocent Man"
Author "Lash, Mary"
Publisher Grist Mill Press
Date 2015
Month March
Summary ""The Desert Murders: How Junk Science, Witness Contamination, and Arizona Politics Condemned an Innocent Man" reconstructs the case of Scott Lehr, a man sentenced to death in Arizona — despite abundant evidence of his innocence. In 1991-92, an epidemic of seven rapes in the desert outskirts of Phoenix mystified local law enforcement. Television and newspaper reports described the assaults against girls and women ranging in age from 10 to 47 as related, for the victims had all accepted rides from personable men, whom some of the women described as generally similar. The theory quickly evolved that one man — nicknamed the I-17 rapist or the baby-seat rapist — was guilty of all the attacks. When the bodies of Margaret Christorf, Michelle Morales, and Belinda Cronin were found in the desert over a six-month period, investigators assumed that the hypothetical serial rapist had committed those murders as well. Based primarily on a vague resemblance among the cars used in some of the assaults, detectives arrested 32-year-old Scott Lehr, a devoted father of three with no criminal history. Lehr was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to two death sentences and 982 years in prison — despite troubling flaws in the investigation and blatant falsehoods in the testimony against him. "The Desert Murders" analyzes the crime investigations and offers a front-row seat on the prosecution of Scott Lehr. Exhaustively researched from police reports, trial transcripts, correspondence, interviews, and news articles, the book provides information the juries that convicted him never knew, including inconsistent eyewitness testimony, false allegations by the prosecution, scanty, possibly tainted forensic evidence, and the fact that similar crimes continued to occur in the area after his incarceration. In addition to detailed coverage of the crimes and the trials, the book includes chapters on Lehr’s interaction with Maricopa County’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio and on the botched 1991 Temple Murders case, which helped set the stage for Lehr’s prosecution. "The Desert Murders" puts a personal face on such issues as the inadequacy of representation for poor defendants, the workings of plea bargaining, attorneys’ and judges’ human failings, and the probability of error in death penalty trials. Anyone concerned with injustice and the politics of the death penalty will want to read it. (Amazon.com book detail.)"
Type Non-fiction
Media Book
Country US
Format softcover
Pages 306
ISBN 978-0985846534
Edition 1st softcover
1st Ed/Copyright 2015
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Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Desert-Murders-Contamination-Politics-Condemned/dp/0985846534/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1425917932&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Desert+Murders+mary+lash
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Wrongly Convicted Bibliography Created and Maintained by Hans Sherrer innocents@forejustice.org