Review of The Edge of Malice: The Marie Grossman Story by David P. Maraldi Rating ***
The Edge of Malice is a 360-degree examination of one particular crime and its aftermath. Marie Grossman stopped by a Burger King on her way to watch her son at a sporting event. That simple decision turned out to have life-altering implications for her and two black teenagers and their families. Richard Thompson and Christopher Martin (pseudonyms) needed to make some money to buy drugs. Their way of making money was to rob people. As Marie pulled up to the drive through the two teenagers approached her car. Richard Thomas pointed a gun at her and told her to let him into the car. Rather than acquiesce to his demand, she hit the gas pedal. Whether by accident or on purpose, the gun discharged, and the bullet entered Marie’s jaw. This book looks at that crime and its implications for Marie and the two teenagers.
The author is a lawyer who represented Marie in a civil lawsuit filed against Burger King and the franchise owner. The book, written years after the crime and subsequent trials, is broken into three parts. The first part deals with the crime and the search for the perpetrators. The second part deals with the criminal and civil trials. The last part provides updates on Marie and Richard Thomas after Richard had served nine years of his sentence.
The middle part of the book presents a behind the scenes look into both the criminal side of our justice system and the civil side as Marie seeks changes and reparations for her injuries.
As thorough as the book is in covering this incident, it misses the mark regarding sentencing disparities. A woman was shot in the face and suffered life-altering injuries as a result. There’s no question that both teenagers deserved time in prison. Richard Thomas cooperated with the police and the prosecutor, plead guilty, and testified against his friend. He received a sentence that could have kept him locked up for thirty years. Fortunately for him, he served only nine years of his sentence. His friend, Christopher Martin, chose a bench trial, claiming no involvement in the crime. He provided alibi witnesses.
The judge didn’t buy the alibi witnesses. He sentenced Christopher Martin to serve three concurrent sentences of ten to thirty years, meaning that he is still in prison and won’t have an opportunity for release until he has served at least thirty years. If you spend any time reading about our criminal justice system, you know that there are people who have committed heinous crimes that have received sentences that are a fraction of what Christopher Martin received. I would have liked a little more on the subject of sentencing and the unequal dispensement of justice.