By William Fisher
I told this story to a few friends last week. They were as blown away as I was. They called it the only "good news" story all week. Since "good news" stories are few and far between in my line of work, let me share it with you.
At one end, it's a story about corruption, cruelty, bad police work, and a criminal justice system that's broken beyond repair and grows more sclerotic by the day, and the rage triggered by injustice "in plain sight" being ignored by authorities.
So far, doesn't sound much like a good news story? Right? Stay with me.
The good news parts of the story are about the determination of the human spirit, the compassion to want to correct injustice, intimate knowledge of the law and all its hazardous potholes and alleys, and the toughness to never give up.
Fifteen years ago, in 1997, a 24-year-old Louisiana man was convicted of the rape and murder of his 14-year-old step cousin, Chrystal Champagne.
The case was had all the earmarks of a slam-dunk: The young man, Damon A. Thibodeaux , had confessed. He admitted his guilt after nine hours of non-stop interrogation by police. He later recanted that confession.
He was sentenced to death. He says he almost gave up hope. "But if you give up hope in here, you begin to die," he said.