Deidre Kirkpatrick, a wealthy 96-year-old recluse, had been found with a charred cantaloupe-sized hole in her chest. The list of suspects was short. Her only visitors anymore were her two sons and the medics who were regularly summoned by her medical alert pendant.
When the police located her son Ethan, they discovered his left hand was blackened and missing two fingers. A result of the same explosion that had killed his mother? Had Ethan rigged a miniature explosive device to kill her, accidentally losing two fingers in the process?
Unusual, to be sure, but the facts were clear to the South Dakota District Attorney. He pressed for the death penalty against Ethan and the jury agreed. Now, after years of failed appeals and protests of innocence, Ethan Kirkpatrick had just one hour left before his midnight execution.
“What a bizarre story,” Ruth Beautyman murmured, watching the news coverage from her home in Minneapolis.