The Confession: A Novel
For every innocent man sent to prison, there is a guilty one left on the outside. He doesn’t understand how the police and prosecutors got the wrong man, and he certainly doesn’t care. He just can’t believe his good luck. Time passes and he realizes that the mistake will not be corrected: the authorities believe in their case and are determined to get a conviction. He may even watch the trial of the person wrongly accused of his crime. He is relieved when the verdict is guilty. He laughs when the police and prosecutors congratulate themselves. He is content to allow an innocent person to go to prison, to serve hard time, even to be executed.
Travis Boyette is such a man. In 1998, in the small East Texas city of Sloan, he abducted, raped, and strangled a popular high school cheerleader. He buried her body so that it would never be found, then watched in amazement as police and prosecutors arrested and convicted Donté Drumm, a local football star, and marched him off to death row.
Now nine years have passed. Travis has just been paroled in Kansas for a different crime; Donté is four days away from his execution. Travis suffers from an inoperable brain tumor. For the first time in his miserable life, he decides to do what’s right and confess.
But how can a guilty man convince lawyers, judges, and politicians that they’re about to execute an innocent man?
made the mistake of referring to her as a “girl.” It had been something like, “Look, girl, I’m doing the best I can here.” He certainly meant no harm by it, and her overreaction was uncalled for, but from that moment on she insisted on being addressed as “Ms. Gibson.” She was slightly irritated because her solitude was interrupted. Wally spoke to AC and rubbed his head, and as he headed for the coffee, he asked, “Anything in the paper?” “No,” she said, not wanting to discuss the news. “No
basement of the building. Other officers were around. One, a black policeman in uniform, recognized Donté and said something about football. Once inside the interrogation room, Morrissey offered him something to drink. Donté declined. There was a small rectangular table in the center of the room. Donté sat on one side, both detectives on the other. The room was well lit with no windows. In one corner, a tripod held a video camera, but it was not directed at Donté, as far as he could tell, nor did
convicts the one who didn’t fire the gun of murder and he gets death. Go figure. It’s Texas. So one brother is serving life. The other went to death row, where he committed suicide a few months later. Somehow he got a razor and slashed himself.” “And your point is?” “Here’s the point. From start to finish, the case cost Mingo County $3 million. They were forced to raise property taxes several times, and this led to an uprising. There were drastic budget cuts in schools, road maintenance, and
opinions realized he was far smarter than they were. He bought the paper in 1966 and owned it for ten years. He also became a skilled lawyer and politician and a leader in the community. A lot of white folks disagreed with Elias, but few challenged him publicly. When the schools were finally desegregated, at the end of a federal gun barrel, white resistance in Slone had been softened after years of crafty manipulation by Elias Henry. After he was elected judge, he sold the paper and assumed a
“Still got your buddy?” “Oh yes. He’s sleeping now. Me, I just nap on and off.” “I’ve talked to Dana. She’s upset, Keith. I’m worried too. We think you’re losing your mind.” “Probably so. I’m touched. Relax, Matthew. I’m doing what’s right, and I’ll survive whatever happens. Right now, my thoughts are with Donté Drumm.” “Don’t cross the state line.” “I heard you the first time.” “Good. I just wanted to be on record as warning you more than once.” “I’m writing it down.” “Okay, now, Keith,