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The Witness: Unfolding the Anatomy of a Killer

By Dr. Wanda Draper, Ph.D. with Collin Stutz, M.F.A.

Wanda Draper grabs the attention of the jurors when she steps down from the witness box and stands in front of them with a LifePath©, that leads them, hand-in-hand with the defendant, from his birth to his murderous act. This LifePath©, now the author’s signature weapon in the courtroom was, for twenty years, developed, time-tested and perfected for use in expert testimony. Through this visual device, the jury discovers how the “blood-thirsty reprobate” was sculpted during his malleable childhood and adolescence. This unique approach pieces together the shards of family circumstances and critical life events, so often swept under the rug of family shame or neglect, to reveal how one’s past casts a grave shadow over his future.

THE WITNESS brings a new dimension to the genre of true crime literature and drama. CSI has long since rolled up their tape; but, the investigation isn’t over. Detectives cool their heels from pounding the pavement; however, the interviews have just started. The suspects, charged and booked, are left to contemplate their future; yet, the key to their future lies in their past. While the crime is solved, one question remains: What is justice? The most fascinating and interesting thread to be untangled from the horrid mess of a human starts with the jury’s verdict — Guilty.

In the second stage, or penalty phase of the trial, the jury is now charged with the task of deciding a just and adequate sentence. They are instructed to put aside their own experiences along with their education, to put on the defendant’s shoes and arrive at an impartial decision based on the “monster in human form.” The newly convicted murderer’s motives, in this penalty phase, are balanced against humanity; one side argues that the weight of the crime warrants death by lethal injection while the other side contends that the scale tips towards life in prison without parole.

The murderer is prosecuted; such an atrocious act warrants death, the DA argues. They push and press the circumstances, mounting the evidence to a landslide verdict. In the midst of the overwhelming accusations and suppositions, one obstacle keeps the rising tide at bay. That one, a witness, defends the indefensible. The witness for the criminal. The witness of the psychological, physical and emotional development of the murderer. The witness for the human charged with taking the life of another. This is the account of The Witness.