Jerry Bledsoe

Death Sentence

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In this “true story that reads like a novel,” the #1 New York Times–bestselling author reveals the facts behind a notorious Southern murder case (Library Journal).
When North Carolina farmer Stuart Taylor died after a sudden illness, his forty-six-year-old fiancée, Velma Barfield, was overcome with grief. Taylor’s family grieved with her—until the autopsy revealed traces of arsenic poisoning. Turned over to the authorities by her own son, Velma stunned her family with more revelations. This wasn’t the first time she had committed cold-blooded murder, and she would eventually be tried by the “world’s deadliest prosecutor” and sentenced to death.
This book probes Velma’s stark descent into madness, her prescription drug addiction, and her effort to turn her life around through Christianity. From her harrowing childhood to the crimes that incited a national debate over the death penalty, to the final moments of her execution, Velma Barfield’s life of crime and punishment, revenge and redemption, this is crime reporting at its most gripping and profound.
“A painfully intimate, moving story about the life and death of the only woman executed in the U.S. between 1962–1998 . . . With graceful writing and thorough reporting, it makes the reader look hard at something dark and sad in the human soul . . . Breathes new life into the true crime genre.” —The News & Observer
“Undertakes to answer the questions about the justice system and the motives that drive women to kill.” —The Washington Post Book World
“An extraordinary piece of writing . . . The most chilling description of a legal execution that we are ever likely to get.” —Citizen-Times
“Taut and engrossing on the nature of justice and the death penalty as well as on guilt and responsibility.” —Booklist
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502 printed pages
Original publication

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