Thursday 9pm – 10pm, ITV
In this two-part documentary, Susanna Reid travels to Huntsville, Texas, home of the most active execution chamber in the United States. There she will meet one inmate who faces imminent death at the hands of the state, Patrick Murphy, one of the notorious ‘Texas 7’. This group of men undertook an armed robbery in which a police officer was murdered, for Murphy’s part in the crime he now faces a lethal injection.
This is not a normal encounter with a murdered by any means, Reid is engaging and doesn’t portray the usual contempt and disgust at Murphy. In doing so she reveals a thoughtful and calmly spoken man, not the stereotyped erratic maniac often displayed on TV. Murphy reveals not only details about his crime that has led him to the brink of death, but his elaborate and daring prison escape in which he became the US’s most wanted man. He recalls how he overpowered prisons guards and went on the run. Reid states “I just wonder what he’s thinking, whether he thinks he deserves his punishment, whether he will ask forgiveness, and what his thoughts are on the years and years he has spent in prison.”
His story will draw you in, querying how a man so coherent and open could commit such horrific crimes. He also protests his innocence – both he and his lawyer David Dow explain how Murphy was only the getaway driver for the Texas 7 – he did not pull the trigger, nor was he actually present for the murder of the policeman. He further explains how his life led him to his criminal undertakings and at some points you may even start to sympathise with him – but this will be blown out of the water when he reveals one revelation.
Susanna also meets the lawyers on the prosecution side, hearing their case for his execution. She also meets the victims family and hears of the impact it had on their lives. In a different twist she also meets Murphy’s family, including a son he never met until he went on the run.
Reid is outside the death chamber on the day Murphy’s execution arrives and speaks with both those for and against his execution. It’s a tense and chilling moment, revealing just how divided America is over the issue.
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