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An altar boy is accused of murdering a priest, and the truth is buried several layers deep.

Martin Vail left the Chicago DA's office to become a successful criminal lawyer, that success predicated on working on high profile cases. As such, he fights to get the case of naive nineteen year old rural Kentuckian Aaron Stampler, an altar boy accused of the vicious bludgeoning death of Archbishop Rushman of Chicago. The story that Aaron tells Marty is that he, abused by his father, was in the room when the murder was committed by a third party, a shadowy figure he did not see, before he blacked out, which commonly happens to him. Not remembering anything during the blackout period, he awoke covered in the archbishop's blood, his fright the reason he ran from the police. He also states that he had no reason to kill the archbishop, who he loved as the father he wished he had. Marty doesn't care if he is guilty or innocent, but needs to know the truth to defend him adequately. Unlike the rest of the world, Marty does believe his story, he who hopes he can use Aaron's general appearance of being an innocent to his advantage. The powerful state attorney, John Shaughnessy, who Marty has had many a moral run-in, wants a first degree murder conviction and the death penalty in this case. He appoints to the case Janet Venable, who still has bad feelings toward Marty, an ex-lover, their six month relationship which ended badly. Although the case looks to be a slam dunk for Janet, her career may be made or broken by its outcome. In building his case, Marty comes across some major pieces of information, some pertaining to the Archbishop himself, and one uncovered by Dr. Molly Arrington about Aaron, she a psychiatrist hired by Marty to assess Aaron's mental state. These pieces of information as a collective pose a problem for Marty in how to mount a credible and legitimate defense for his client. It is more of a moral dilemma for Marty if only because he believes the life of a young man, who he believes in, is at stake.


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