Crime After Crime
Deborah Peagler was just fifteen years old when she met Oliver Wilson, a charming man several years her senior. They began dating, and Peagler learned that Wilson was a pimp when he asked her to turn tricks for him. When she said no, he responded with violence, and thus began an ugly and abusive relationship that went on for years. After Peagler learned that Wilson had molested their six-year-old daughter, she turned to two men she knew in hopes they would help free her from Wilson. However, their confrontation turned violent and Wilson ended up dead. Peagler was charged with first-degree murder for her role in Wilson's death, even though she only witnessed the beating and the killing was not premeditated; incorrectly told she was facing the death penalty, Peagler pled guilty on the advice on a public defender who never asked her about the abuse that led to the crime. Peagler was sentenced to twenty-five years to life, but in 2000, after seventeen years behind bars, California passed a law that offered consideration in cases of battered women who killed their abusers. The law would seem tailor-made for a case like Peagler's, but when a pair of attorneys volunteered to take on her case, they were soon trapped in a labyrinth of broken promises, legal double-talk and official corruption as they dealt with the California court system and the Los Angeles District Attorney's office. Filmmaker Yoav Potash chronicles the true story of Deborah Peagler and the battle to win her freedom in the documentary Crime After Crime. The film received its world premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, several months prior to its television debut on Oprah Winfrey's OWN cable network.