The Trials of Eroy Brown by Michael Berryhill
The Murder Case That Shook the Texas Prison System (Jack and Doris Smothers Series in Texas History, Life, and Culture)

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Synopsis

In April 1981, two white Texas prison officials died at the hands of a black inmate at the Ellis prison farm near Huntsville. Warden Wallace Pack and farm manager Billy Moore were the highest-ranking Texas prison officials ever to die in the line of duty. The warden was drowned face down in a ditch. The farm manager was shot once in the head with the warden's gun. The man who admitted to killing them, a burglar and robber named Eroy Brown, surrendered meekly, claiming self-defense.

In any other era of Texas prison history, Brown's fate would have seemed certain: execution. But in 1980, federal judge William Wayne Justice had issued a sweeping civil rights ruling in which he found that prison officials had systematically and often brutally violated the rights of Texas inmates. In the light of that landmark prison civil rights case, Ruiz v. Estelle, Brown had a chance of being believed.

The Trials of Eroy Brown, the first book devoted to Brown's astonishing defense, is based on trial documents, exhibits, and journalistic accounts of Brown's three trials, which ended in his acquittal. Michael Berryhill presents Brown's story in his own words, set against the backdrop of the chilling plantation mentality of Texas prisons. Brown's attorneys—Craig Washington, Bill Habern, and Tim Sloan—undertook heroic strategies to defend him, even when the state refused to pay their fees. The Trials of Eroy Brown tells a landmark story of prison civil rights and the collapse of Jim Crow justice in Texas.

 

About Michael Berryhill

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Published October 15, 2011 by University of Texas Press. 247 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Law & Philosophy, Crime, Professional & Technical. Non-fiction

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Witnesses tell several versions of how in 1981, while Brown was at the Ellis prison farm near Huntsville, two white Texas prison guards were killed by Brown, who was also shot, but it was claimed that after being threatened, he grabbed one guard's weapon and drowned the other guard, leaving the q...

Jul 04 2011 | Read Full Review of The Trials of Eroy Brown: The...

Bookmarks Magazine

The man who admitted to killing them, a burglar and robber named Eroy Brown, surrendered meekly, claiming self-defense.In any other era of Texas prison history, Brown's fate would have seemed certain: execution.

Nov 13 2011 | Read Full Review of The Trials of Eroy Brown: The...

Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Books

In the prologue to The Trials of Eroy Brown: The Murder Case That Shook the Texas Prison System, author Michael Berryhill observes, “[t]hat a black inmate could kill two white officials and not be convicted of murder shocked the prison system and marked the end of Jim Crow justice in Texas.” U...

| Read Full Review of The Trials of Eroy Brown: The...

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