Forgiving the Dead Man Walking: Only One Woman Can Tell the Entire Story

Overview

It was just another time of enjoying milkshakes and small talk. Neither Debbie Cuevas nor her boyfriend, Mark Brewster, gave much thought to the white pickup truck that had pulled up beside them on the riverfront. Until . . . a revolver thrust through the driver?s window . . . a hand jerked Debbie?s head back and a voice said, "Don?t do anything stupid" . . . and a quiet Friday evening abruptly became a nightmare.

For the first time, here is the untold other half of Dead Man ...

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Overview

It was just another time of enjoying milkshakes and small talk. Neither Debbie Cuevas nor her boyfriend, Mark Brewster, gave much thought to the white pickup truck that had pulled up beside them on the riverfront. Until . . . a revolver thrust through the driver’s window . . . a hand jerked Debbie’s head back and a voice said, "Don’t do anything stupid" . . . and a quiet Friday evening abruptly became a nightmare.

For the first time, here is the untold other half of Dead Man Walking, the movie that depicted killer Robert Willie’s death-row relationship with spiritual advisor Helen Prejean. Now the woman whose testimony helped send Willie to the electric chair tells her side of the story--the side America hasn’t heard. In gripping detail, Debbie Morris--formerly Debbie Cuevas--recounts her hours of terror . . . and her years of walking an agonizing road back to wholeness.

More than a riveting narrative, here is an incredible tale of courage, faith, and forgiveness. In a world where all of us struggle sooner or later with unforgiveness, Debbie Morris is a living testimony to the grace we long for: grace that shines more brightly than we dare believe, bright enough to triumph over the darkest evil.

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Editorial Reviews

Philadelphia City Paper
'You won't find Debbie Morris in the film 'Dead Man Walking,' but she is one of the integral characters in the true story behind the movie.' -- 'You won't find Debbie Morris in the film 'Dead Man Walking,' but she is one of the integral characters in the true story behind the movie.'
New Orleans Times-Picayune
'Debbie Morris' recollection of her nightmarish ordeal is chilling. But even more memorable is her description of the emotional and spiritual journey she's taken in the 15 years since.' -- 'Debbie Morris' recollection of her nightmarish ordeal is chilling. But even more memorable is her description of the emotional and spiritual journey she's taken in the 15 years since.'
Daily Variety
'As Morris calmly describes the horrible ordeal that inspired her beliefs, what emerges is the profile of a woman who is Sister Helen Prejean's equal in strength and virtue.' -- 'As Morris calmly describes the horrible ordeal that inspired her beliefs, what emerges is the profile of a woman who is Sister Helen Prejean's equal in strength and virtue.'
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Already familiar to readers from the movie Dead Man Walking, this horrifying crime story, related here by one of the victims, becomes an inspiring morality tale of one woman's redemption. In 1980, Morris, then a 16-year-old high school junior in tiny Madisonville, La., was parked with her boyfriend, Mark Brewster, along the Tchefuncte riverfront sipping a milkshake when two men suddenly appeared. Mark and Debbie were kidnapped: he was tortured and left for dead, while she was terrorized and raped repeatedly. With extraordinary presence of mind, she managed, incredibly, to talk her captors into letting her go. The aftershock, however, lasted for years: her relationship with Mark deteriorated; she dropped out of high school; and she suffered recurring claustrophobic fears. Her abductors, Robert Lee Willie and Joe Vaccaro, were captured, and Debbie aided the prosecution in its successful bid for the death penalty for Willie for the earlier rape/ murder of Faith Hathaway. After the trial, she discovered, "Justice doesn't really heal all the wounds." Her true path toward healing was hard won: She's often angry--at Sister Helen Prejean's attentions to Willie ("Where was the help I needed when I felt so alone?"), at her family, at God ("I'd found it easier to forgive Robert Willie than it was to forgive God"). But at the end of a journey that rings true and intensely human, she looks to her husband, son and new life and ceases to see herself as a victim, but instead as a survivor. (Sept.) FYI: Morris's story first appeared on a Frontline segment titled "Angel on Death Row."
Library Journal
For years after, she was known only as the "l6-year old from Madisonville," who had been talking with her boyfriend, Mark, when Robert Willie and Joseph Vaccaro kidnapped them. Mark was tortured and shot but survived, and Morris was repeatedly raped but eventually got out alive. Willie and Vaccaro were captured and Morris tried to move on with her life, eventually marrying and having children but always living with hurt and resentment. When the movie Dead Man Walking was made, she contacted Sister Helen Prejean (Dead Man Walking, LJ 6/15/93), the nun who counseled Robert Willie in prison and who was the focus of much of Debbie's anger. After speaking with Sister Helen, however, Morris was able to use her Christian beliefs to learn to forgive. Although Morris does include details of her awful ordeal, this is more a personal reflection on human nature than a traditional true-crime book. The writing is somewhat self-conscious and stilted in spots, but that only gives the story a much more human and vulnerable feel. For larger public libraries.--Christine A. Moesch, Buffalo & Erie Cty. P.L., NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780310231875
  • Publisher: Zondervan
  • Publication date: 8/1/2000
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 701,687
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.51 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Gregg Lewis es autor y coautor galardonado de mas de cincuenta libros, incluyendo Arriesgate y Vision Global con Ben Carson, Tom Landry: Una autobiografia, Jesus M.D., y A salvo en casa. el y su esposa, Deborah, tienen cinco hijos y residen en Rome, Georgia.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 26, 2010

    This book is the story of Debbie Morris and her journey to forgivness.

    This book made me very angry. I found the author to be very self absorbed and at times I could not beleive the selfish remarks she made about Faith and her parents struggle to see what they feel is justice for their daughter. This whole book is me me me. She cries out for help on almost every page yet failes to recognise that his punishment was not for the crime committed against her and her boyfriend but for Faith Halloway. I find it disturbing that she worried more about Willie "liking" her then the needs of Faiths Parents. Pages 166 onwards provoked me to actually stop feeling for this woman and feeling more for Faith and her parents. Debbie states in this book that she would ask those opposed to the death penality if they had ever been a victim of crime and how they would feel if it was their family member...... well it is the very family members that she had no time for because she wanted to move on with her life!!
    I feel this is a "let's cash in on the crime" book.
    And Debbie if your reading this I feel you owe Faiths parents a sincere apology. You survived, Faith didn't and you seem in the pages of this book to feel your plight is more important then theirs. You survived, you will NEVER know the pain and suffering they have lived with and it is so unbeleivably selfish of you to think they wanted contact with you so they could have a "connection" with their daughter.
    I put down this book disGusted, truely disgusted. I think the author just wanted to appear noble and forgiving but in her plight to forgive but really made herself out to be a truely ignorant person.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2003

    Great Journey on Forgiveness

    I first saw the movie Dead Man Walking and what impressed me the most was Debbie Morris testimony. I could feel her strength. Then I heard that Debbie was going to be in Spokane to talk about Forgiveness. I needed to hear a story on forgiveness since I was having issues with forgiving. After meeting Debbie Morris and listening to her story it still did not prepare me for reading the Book. It was well written and I recommend it to anyone and everyone. As Debbie Morris said 'rape is not the end'. Reading Debbie Morris book will help you on your journey for Forgiveness. It sure helped me.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2003

    An exhilarating book

    Debbie Morris¿ Forgiving the Dead Man Walking is an exhilarating book. This book makes you want to keep reading page after page. The book is about Debbie Morris and her boyfriend and their experiences during one summer. Debbie and her boyfriend were kidnapped.During this time Debbie was raped three times. Her boyfriend was kidnapped with her and taken out to the woods to be shot, but they didn¿t end up killing him. He just became paralyzed. This story is very sad, and makes you think about your life. I would recommend this book to readers who like action books and people that don¿t have a small stomach. However I would not recommend this book to young readers due to content of the book. If you do read this book, be ready for a strange twist at the end of the book. Forgiving the Dead Man Walking is a great book and makes you grateful for your life.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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