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Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956) - Plot Summary Poster

Plot Summary

  • Investigative reporter Tom Garrett is on leave from his newspaper job to work on his second novel. As Tom is having problems writing that second book, his boss and future father-in-law, newspaper publisher Austin Spencer, suggests he write a non-fiction book on capital punishment in their state instead. Both Austin and Tom have long believed that the state district attorney, Roy Thompson, has been able to manipulate juries into rendering wrongful guilty verdicts leading to the deaths of innocent people on death row. The plan would be to plant evidence leading to a guilty verdict of an innocent person in a murder case, Tom to be that innocent person. Austin and Tom would document all that planted evidence, and make it public after the rendering of the guilty verdict to reverse that wrongful verdict and hopefully lead to discussion of the merits of abolishing capital punishment. They decide that the fewer people that know about the plan, the better, which means not telling Tom's fiancée/Austin's daughter, Susan Spencer, about the plan. They are certain that the plan will not jeopardize Susan and Tom's ultimate marriage. They decide that the unsolved murder of burlesque dancer Patty Gray will be the case they use. As Tom and Austin go about implementing their plan, they don't account for two items which ultimately do place Tom's life in jeopardy. Saving Tom's life may in part may depend on the support of Susan, which may not be as easy to obtain as expected.

    - Written by Huggo
  • The owner of an important newspaper Austin Spencer opposes to the capital punishment and particularly to the prosecutor Roy Thompson, who has just succeeded in a trial based on circumstantial evidences. When a dancer is strangled and the police have no suspect, Austin convinces his future son-in-law, the prominent writer Tom Garrett, to plant circumstantial evidences to self-incriminate, while he would hold pictures, receipts and other evidences of his innocence until the very last moment. Later Austin would begin a campaign in his newspaper disclosing the possibility of sending an innocent to the electric chair. They decide to hide the truth from Austin's daughter Susan since she could not support the situation under stress. When the jury withdraws from the court in the end of the trial to give the sentence, Austin takes the evidences that prove the innocence of Tom from his safe, but has a car accident and dies. Tom is sentenced to death penalty and tries to convince Susan of his innocence as his last hope.

    - Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Writer sets himself up to take murder rap to show the errors of circumstantial evidence. With a friend holding back evidence so he can prove his innocence at the last minute, he goes to trial. But during the trial, his friend is killed in a car accident.

    - Written by Humberto Amador
  • A novelist aided by his future father-in-law conspires to frame himself in the murder of a stripper as part of an effort to ban capital punishment.

    - Written by duke1029@aol.com

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