Monday, January 27, 2014

A Murder in Wellesley by Tom Farmer and Marty Foley

A Murder in Wellesley
by Tom Farmer and Marty Foley
4 stars - well written, disturbing, enlightening
ALR Yellow - Dr. Greineder had two GSDs. They aren't central to the story, but one is inexplicably euthanized and the other's fate is not discussed (one presumes she is left in the care of the Dr.'s adult children).

Wellesley, Massachusetts. My home town. The cover of the book indicates that the 1999 murder of May Greineder was national news. Was it? I don't know.

Regardless, on October 31, 1999, the Wellesley police received a call from a distraught man that his wife had been attacked at Morse's pond. Arriving at the scene, it was clear that she was dead and that she had been violently murdered.

Marty Foley, co-author of the book, was also the chief investigator on the case. It's no spoiler that Dr. Greineder was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. The book is about the investigation and trial that led to that conviction. 

If this were fiction, avid mystery readers like me would have been suspicious of the obvious clues from the start. Primarily, the lack of blood on Dr. Greineder's hands despite his clothing being covered with blood and his claims that he had touched his wife's body. Good enough, right? Wrong.

For me, this was a story of how our judicial system *should* work. The burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove guilt (not the other way around) and subsequently, we are taken through the collection of evidence and information regarding what can and cannot be admitted and why. Internet juries often become frustrated about evidence that is excluded from trials and "facts" that seem insufficient to convict. But these rules of engagement are to protect the innocent. Remember that.

This book gets four stars for readability. It's very well written. Yeah, given the outcome and that the lead detective is one of the authors, it's a bit biased in favor of the prosecution, but that's OK. 

I was impressed by the thoughtfulness of the jury. If the accounts are accurate, they presumed innocence and took the time to review the facts. My personal experience, both from sitting on a federal jury and being a defendant in a civil jury trial is that you can't expect that kind of consideration from the average jury. In both cases, the jurors made their decisions early on and refused to let any facts budge them from that decision. Despite all evidence pointing to guilt in the federal case I was part of, I am still haunted by how our guilty verdict would affect the lives of the accused. It's a terrible and important responsibility. Remember that if you ever get called to jury duty.

It amazes me that people continue to seem shocked when an "upright" and educated person commits a crime. People are people and some percentage of the population is capable of heinous acts. Every now and then, somebody who works at the same company as I do will be arrested. Most of my co-workers are shocked. Not me. I always tell them "This company employs 60,000 people. I can guarantee you that some number of them are pedophiles, wife or child beaters, thieves, drug addicts, and, yes, even murderers." That's just the human condition. We can never really know anybody, not even ourselves.

Oh, and all you dog walkers and joggers out there. Brace yourselves. It would appear that statistically, you're the most likely to be the ones on the scene when something bad happens. 

1 comment:

  1. My oldest son, then 13, and our mastiff, then Sarge, discovered that a neighbor's 1890 Victorian house was on fire while they were at church one Sunday morning. Dog walkers and joggers are much more likely to notice things than folks driving past.

    Your comments on juries are disturbing. My daughter the lawyer has only been in front of judges in court thus far, and she'd like to keep it that way, because juries are unpredictable. It is funny how people are shocked when a "good person" that they knew did something awful, isn't it? Great review, Nancy.

    (Oh, and I don't recall this trial being national news, but everything local seems so much more important to those involved, doesn't it?)