In 1958, 19-year-old Charlie Starkweather went on a murder spree that paralyzed Nebraska, shocked the nation, and left 11 people dead. With him when he was captured was his 14-year-old ex-girlfriend Caril Fugate. The question soon arose, was Caril a kidnapped victim, or a heartless accomplice?
Assigned to her case, Attorney John McArthur initially accepted the assignment out of a sense of Constitutional duty. But as he delved deeper, he found that the truth was far more complicated than anyone was letting on. Up against incredible odds, and with a strong conviction of her innocence, McArthur remained with Caril and fought for her freedom for 18 years. For this service, he took no pay, accepting the case pro bono.
This book follows the long struggle of McArthur, his partner Merril Reller, and John's son James as they took on the Nebraska legal system and a public that had already determined Caril's guilt before ever bearing a word of testimony. The story continues through all it influenced, such as Stephen King, who became a horror writer because of it, Bruce Springsteen, who wrote a whole album about it, Terrence Malick, Oliver Stone, Martin Sheen, and Peter Jackson, who wrote his first major movie based on the Starkweather-Fugate incident.
Pro Bono explores aspects of this incredible story that have never been revealed before, and sheds new light on these terrifying and complex events.
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About the Author
Jeff McArthur was born in Nebraska where he began writing before he could read. He went to school in New York, then moved to Los Angeles to begin a film career. In the past couple years he has written a comic book series and published three books. His most recent one, Pro Bono, has just been released, and his upcoming books include a new Relic Worlds novel, and The American Game, about a baseball game between enemy soldiers in the American Civil War.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by April Gilly for Readers' Favorite Pro Bono: The 18-Year Defense of Caril Ann Fugate by Jeff McArthur gives the facts of Caril’s story after she was taken into custody the day she made a run from her boyfriend, Charles Starkweather, on the side of the interstate in Wyoming. Caril is a 14-year-old girl who is the witness to a killing spree that lasted 8 days in Lincoln and Bennett, Nebraska. Caril goes along with Charles because he has threatened her family and she witnesses him kill 10 people over the 8-day period. John McArthur and Merrill Reller, and later James McArthur, do everything they can to keep Caril from getting convicted, and once found guilty, they do everything they can to appeal her case and get her a new trial. The 3 attorneys stay with Caril through everything, up through the day she gets parole and starts life over. Pro Bono: The 18-Year Defense of Caril Ann Fugate by Jeff McArthur is a gripping and well written book that takes you through the entire legal process, from first trial, through all appeals courts, and finally parole. Jeff McArthur stays away from the rumors and drama that circled around the case, except to mention that it was there and it affected how people thought of Caril and the trial in general. Jeff McArthur states his sources and does his best to give the facts of the case instead of doing like many others of the time and using the lies or words of Charles Starkweather. While I still don’t know if Caril is innocent or guilty of the crimes she was convicted for, I know that the justice system failed her when she needed it most.