Anatomy of an Execution: The Life and Death of Douglas Christopher Thomas

Overview

It is an undisputed fact that Chris Thomas was guilty of participating in a brutal double homicide. He was convicted of killing his girlfriend’s parents in November of 1990, was sentenced to death in November of 1991, and was executed by the Commonwealth of Virginia in January of 2000. Chris Thomas was one of the last juvenile offenders to be put to death before the Supreme Court ruled that the execution of juveniles constituted cruel and unusual punishment. In Anatomy of an Execution, Todd C. Peppers and Laura ...

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Overview

It is an undisputed fact that Chris Thomas was guilty of participating in a brutal double homicide. He was convicted of killing his girlfriend’s parents in November of 1990, was sentenced to death in November of 1991, and was executed by the Commonwealth of Virginia in January of 2000. Chris Thomas was one of the last juvenile offenders to be put to death before the Supreme Court ruled that the execution of juveniles constituted cruel and unusual punishment. In Anatomy of an Execution, Todd C. Peppers and Laura Trevvett Anderson tell the entire story, shedding light on issues surrounding the death penalty—such as the quality of court appointed counsel, the execution of juveniles (from both a constitutional law and public policy perspective), conditions of confinement on death row, and the role of spiritual advisors in the condemned’s last days. While providing insight into the legal workings of the modern death penalty system, the book also offers a rare glimpse of a young, condemned man’s life before and after the crime: a childhood ravaged by loss and neglect, a toxic first love, the brutal murders, trial and sentencing, and, ultimately, a chance at redemption. This is not an effort to excuse a crime but an assertion that even a murderer’s life is worth more than its worst act.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A major addition to death-penalty literature.”—Washington Post Book World

“Anatomy of an Execution is a serious treatment worth reading for anyone interested in the court system and the death penalty.”—Roanoke Times

Colman McCarthy
…an encompassing and often soulful account of the brief life of a person who was both victimizer and victim, friendless and befriended. No sentimentalizing is to be found in these pages of well-documented and carefully crafted prose…A major addition to death-penalty literature, what Peppers and Anderson tell about one inmate in one state in one cell block could easily be the story of any of the 3,200 people now stashed on the nation's death rows. The story of Chris Thomas is unique only because two educators chose not to let it be forgotten that he was a human being. They saw him as more than his crime.
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555537135
  • Publisher: Northeastern University Press
  • Publication date: 11/30/2009
  • Pages: 309
  • Sales rank: 1,454,888
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

TODD C. PEPPERS is an associate professor in the Department of Public Affairs at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, and a lecturer in law at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia. He is the author of Courtiers of the Marble Palace: The Rise and Influence of the Supreme Court Law Clerk. LAURA TREVVETT ANDERSON was Chris Thomas’s high school teacher, corresponded with him extensively while on death row, and served as his spiritual advisor during his final days in the death house.

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Table of Contents

Foreword – Marie Deans
Preface
Acknowledgments
The Major Figures
The Seeds Are Sown
Love and Murder
The Death Penalty in Virginia
On Trial for His Life
Life on the Row
Prelude to an Execution
The Death of Douglas Christopher Thomas
Concluding Thoughts
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2012

    What a sad and tragic story of the system going terribly wrong.

    What a sad and tragic story of the system going terribly wrong. This true story is a lesson for all of us of how fragile life and relationships are. Thank you for sharing this heartbraking experience.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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