Joshua C. Kezer and Stephen Snodgrass
In a small Missouri town in 1992, the body of 19-year-old Mischelle Lawless was found in her car, stalled on the side of a road. 18-year-old Joshua Kezer was arrested and charged for her murder—even though he was in a different state at the time—and spent the next 16 years of his life in prison. How was Josh imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit? Author and attorney Stephen Snodgrass expertly unveils the web of corruption that led to Josh’s conviction. This book is a timely, compassionate work of true crime that calls for more equitable justice for all.
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Stephen R. Snodgrass has a JD from Washington University in St. Louis and a PhD in psychology from Johns Hopkins. Josh was his first innocence case, but he has since represented two more men wrongfully convicted of murder who have been freed, David Robinson, and Donald Nash. Along with the other two lawyers in the case, Snodgrass received the 2021 Missouri Lawyer of the Year Award for work on the Nash case.
Joshua C. Kezer spent 16 years in prison as an innocent man. In 2009, he became the first man in the history of the state of Missouri to be given an Amrine actual innocence ruling. Since his exoneration and release, he's successfully assisted in the exonerations of other innocent men. Seeing parallels between wrongful incarceration and sex-trafficking as modern forms of slavery, Josh has also become involved in the fight to end sex-trafficking. His story has been featured on 48 hours Mystery, On the Case with Paula Zahn, The 700 Club, and on popular podcasts including The Lawless Files with Bob Miller and Crime Junky with Ashley Flowers. He currently resides in Columbia, Missouri with his adopted pitbull, King Titan. He can be found on Twitter as @joshkezer, Instagram as @josh_kezer, and Facebook as Josh Kezer.
In 1992 Missouri, 18-year-old Kezer was arrested for the murder of teenager Angela Mischelle Lawless. Despite Kezer and Lawless being unacquainted and multiple witnesses attesting to him being several hundred miles away during the homicide, Kezer was convicted of Lawless' murder. He remained in jail until his conviction was overturned in 2009. The Murder of Angela Mischelle Lawless elevates the true-crime genre by including Kezer as an author alongside lawyer Snodgrass, a member of the legal team that overturned Kezer's conviction. Kezer's recounting of a turbulent upbringing and the devastation of a murder conviction add a deeply shattering tenor to Snodgrass' expert legal perspective. Snodgrass shows how inaccurate eyewitness testimony, irresponsible prosecution and law enforcement, and neglectful legal representation led to an innocent man's conviction and a murder remaining unsolved. The authors then share how the honesty and steadfastness of Kezer's supporters and legal team, along with Kezer's own dedication, allowed him to reclaim his innocence. Readers of legal true crime, along with those interested in criminal-justice reform, will appreciate Kezer's deeply moving account and Snodgrass' thorough legal exploration. COPYRIGHT(2023) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Library Journal (04/01/2023):
The 1992 case of a gang member, Joshua Kezer, wrongly convicted of murdering a young woman in southeast Missouri, is examined in this work. The author Snodgrass, a civil litigation attorney, was brought in to aid Kezer's defense after a woman involved with a prison ministry reached out to friends. The book illustrates how pressure to find the killer of a young woman, understaffed rural police, and political ambition all led to the conviction of an innocent man. Snodgrass indicates that the defendant was framed by jailhouse informants seeking leniency for themselves, and the prosecutor knowingly used their false testimony. Furthermore, despite no connection to the victim, no physical evidence, and no proof that he was even in the state at the time, he was found guilty and imprisoned for 16 years. That's when a part-time deputy who had investigated the murder scene was elected sheriff. He reopened the case and is still searching for the murderer. A state court judge freed Kezer. The book notes what he and the lawyers are doing now. VERDICT True crime readers will likely appreciate this detailed examination of a flawed case. A read-alike is Bone Deep by Charles Bosworth and Joel Schwartz.--Harry Charles
Copyright 2023 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.