Monday, March 24, 2008

Killer-for-Hire: The Final Chapter of the Alabama Twins Murder Case

by Barbara Lunsford
ISBN: 9780980119107 - Mystery Crime Scene (2007)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (2/08)

Betty Wilson was the wife of a well-liked doctor in Alabama. When he was murdered, she was tried and convicted without real evidence linking her to the crime.  A man did confess to murdering her husband.  This man initially said that Betty and her twin sister were involved with hiring him.  He later recanted this, and said that he acted on his own and it was a burglary gone awry.  The man didn't think that Betty's husband would be at home.  Betty had never met this man, however, knew about him through her twin sister that was trying to help him out.  Schizophrenic alcoholic and a conman, the man said that he implicated Betty because he was forced to.  He was threatened with going to the electric chair if he did not. 
Not all of the pieces tied his story together.  Dennis Johnson had heard this man bragging about burglarizing the home of this rich family.  He didn't think too much about it until later on he discovered that there had been a murder and Betty Wilson was wrongfully convicted.  Dennis contacted supporters of Betty's to try to help.  His own character was torn apart once he started trying to help.  Betty had several people trying to help her.  Her story in prison is very painful because prison conditions are absolutely horrible in Alabama.  Corruption and abuse run rampant in the system.  Being a wealthy white woman has not helped Betty with the inmates. 
Betty's supporters have tried to help her with appealing, but meet many dead ends. They have discovered that there are people trying to prevent the truth from being told so they can protect themselves.  There are also a lot of people after Betty's money, and this is not discovered until after they have taken thousands of dollars.   The whole story is fascinating and very sad because it is true and happening in our times. 
"Killer-for-Hire" had a profound impact on how I view our justice system.  Prior to reading the story of the Alabama Twins, I always assumed that a prosecutor would only pursue cases where he/she had enough evidence to convict.  In this true story, politics and corruption heavily play into the conviction of an innocent woman.  I happened to read this book while I am serving jury duty.  It has given me a completely different perspective on our system.  If this case happened to one person, I think that it can be assumed that it has happened to many people.  The book also opened my eyes to how prisoners are being mistreated.  I hope that this isn't the case everywhere, but some of the prison employees are worse than the criminals.  Safeguards should be put into place to stop this abuse. 
"Killer-for-Hire" is a very interesting story.  Betty Wilson has her issues, but being a murderer is not one of them.  I think that readers will find this book fascinating.  You can also go to a website to read more and sign a petition for Betty.

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