Cinema Review: A Murder in the Park | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, October 27th, 2021  

A Murder in the Park

Studio: Sundance Selects
Directed by Shawn Rech and Brandon Kimber

Jul 02, 2015 Web Exclusive
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In 1999, Anthony Porter was released from death row, where he’d spent almost two decades following his conviction for the murder of two Chicago teenagers in 1982. The release came, in large part, from the efforts of Northwestern University journalism professor David Protess and a group of his students, who uncovered alleged evidence that suggested Porter was an innocent man. The turn in his case made national headlines and contributed to the end of the death penalty in Illinois. Protess and his students were portrayed as heroes, but that changed when allegations arose that Protess and his private investigator used intimidation to coerce a confession from the man who went to prison in Porter’s place. Alstory Simon was innocent, yet spent almost 16 years in prison before also being exonerated of the double homicide.

A Murder in the Park argues that Protess’ sense of activism—as an opponent of the death penalty—freed a murderer while an innocent man paid for his crime. Protess, his private investigator, and his students all declined to be interviewed, which is unfortunate as it would have been fascinating to hear them defend themselves against what they’re accused of. (We see them discuss the case in archival interviews, but these clips feel inadequate.) A Murder in the Park more than convincingly presents what appears to be a gross corruption of justice, but its dry play-by-play is about as compelling as a Wikipedia article, and the handful of poor quality re-enactments do more to harm the documentary than help explain the sequence of events.

Author rating: 4/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10


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