For those who are looking for new crime/wrongful convictions TV shows to watch this summer—Viola Davis has you covered. Davis’ most recent production, The Last Defense, premiered on ABC’s Network on June 12th and will be aired on Tuesdays at 10 pm/9pm central for the remaining episodes. This show is a seven-part documentary series following the gripping innocence claims of two people on death row, exposing the underlying flaws and issues within the American criminal justice system.
The first four episodes of the docu-series focus on Darlie Routier of Rowlett, Texas. Darlie was the mother of two sons who were stabbed to death in an attack that occurred in her home on the night of June 6th, 1996. Less than an hour after arriving to the crime scene, the investigator decided that the attack had clearly been staged and Darlie was the true murderer of her sons. Her conviction solely relies on faulty blood spatter analysis and character assassination. Darlie claims that she absolutely did not murder her sons. Her husband Darin, who was sleeping upstairs at the time of the attack with their third 8-month-old son, firmly upholds her innocence as well. Kristine Bunch, another woman convicted of arson that in-turn killed her own son, is featured in this part of the docu-series. Her interviews are quite compelling and add to Darlie’s plight.
The remaining three episodes in the series turn to focus on Julius Jones. In the summer of 1999, Julius was arrested for the murder of an insurance executive Paul Scott Howell in Edmond, Oklahoma. Julius was a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Oklahoma at the time, an honors student with a full-ride academic scholarship. With Jones being black and Howell being a well-to-do white man, the case was racially charged. His prosecutor was “Cowboy Bob” Macy, who sent 54 people to death row during his 21 years as a District Attorney. Macy is infamously known for his misconduct, and convicted Julius solely on informant testimony. One of the main witnesses was also involved in the sentencing of two other innocent men in another case. Julius was convicted and sentenced to death row at the age of 21, and has spent the last 16 years in prison maintaining his innocence.
The Last Defense was screened at the 2018 Tribeca Film festival in April and now that it’s on air, is a must-watch for the summer.