Angelina Jaramillo, the eighteen-year-old daughter of a prominent New Mexico family, was raped, bludgeoned, and stabbed to death in her bedroom on 16 November 1931. Thomas Johnson, an African American labourer with a prison record in four states was convicted of the crime and executed. Now more than seventy years later this meticulously researched account of the case substantiates a longstanding rumour that the wrong man was put to death. The racial atmosphere, aggravated by the economics of the Great Depression, made it easy for the local establishment to engineer the outcome of the trial. In the 1930s a few well-connected people could decide that it was in the public's best interest to cover up a murder. Today the crime could be solved by DNA evidence -- but in the early 1930s an impoverished, black defendant with a criminal record made an easy target. This lively true crime story is thought-provoking and even more shocking today than at the time of the miscarriage of justice.
Publisher: University of New Mexico Press
Number of pages: 224
Weight: 508 g
Dimensions: 230 x 155 x 24 mm
"As disturbing as it is engaging, Melnick's book uncovers a dark and shameful chapter of New Mexican history, shedding light on the ugly underpinnings of political patronage, racism and social propriety."
"The book is a good read and it illuminates, should that fact need illuminating, that racism reared its ugly head even in fair, multicultural New Mexico."
"Ralph Melnick has produced an excellent nonfiction piece. "Justice Betrayed," is a well-researched and well-written story of the execution of a Black man, Tom Johnson, wrongly accused of raping and murdering a young Hispanic woman during the 1930s."