Murder on a Sunday Morning


Murder on a Sunday Morning

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User Ratings: 1,166
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Movie Info

The genesis of this Oscar-winning documentary feature was one of the more appalling miscarriages of justice in recent American history. In May of 2000, Mary Ann Stephens, a 65-year-old tourist from Georgia, was shot and killed by a black assailant in Jacksonville, FL. Anxious not to damage their tourist trade, the Jacksonville police rushed out and picked up the first black "suspect" who happened to be available: 15-year-old Brendon Butler, who at the time of his arrest, was en route to a job interview. The grieving husband of of the murder victim, who had glimpsed the killer from a distance, was virtually coerced by the arresting officers into identifying Butler as the guilty party -- and later, thanks to the strong-arm tactics of his interrogators, and without benefit of counsel, the boy confessed to a crime which he did not commit. Brash, chain-smoking public defender Pat McGuinness, sensing that the prosecution's case stank to high heaven, proceeded to mount a courtroom defense for Butler which may well survive the decades as a textbook case of brilliant jurisprudence -- while the trial itself will undoubtedly forever serve as a cautionary example of the perils and pitfalls and prejudice of "swift justice." Assembled by French documentary filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, this 111-minute feature was originally released under the title Un coupable ideal. As Murder on a Sunday Morning, the film was afforded a Los Angeles theatrical showing in September of 2001 to qualify for the Academy Awards; most Americans, however, saw the film when it aired on the HBO cable network on April 2, 2002.

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Critic Reviews for Murder on a Sunday Morning

All Critics (3) | Fresh (2) | Rotten (1)

Audience Reviews for Murder on a Sunday Morning

  • Jul 22, 2014
    An attorney defends an African-American fifteen-year-old accused of the murder of a white tourist. This documentary is pretty plain-Jane. There aren't many flashy edits or creative story-telling gimmicks. And that's appropriate because the film's subject is compelling on its own. Will the accused Brandon Butler be proven innocent? What are the racial implications of this case? What are Pat McGuinness's strategies throughout the trail? Overall, for students and critics of the American criminal justice system, this film is required viewing.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • May 02, 2011
    The title itself sounds so damn alluring. Add to it that it's an Oscar winning documentary depicting the trial of a 15 year old guy wrongly accused of murdering an old woman. His acquittal was an uphill task since the only witness (old woman's wise husband) in the case had positively identified him as the murderer. I'd almost forgotten about this movie until some days back. After that, I was way too desperate to check it out. Unfortunately, it wasn't anywhere nearly as interesting as I'd expected. No, I wasn't looking forward for a Sherlock Holmes or a Perry Mason kind of story, but something gotta give. This was......... some things are better left unsaid.
    familiar s Super Reviewer
  • Jan 12, 2009
    A very good doc about a boy who originally is brought in by police because he may be able to provide info on a random killing, and is subsequently identified by an eyewitness, a 70 year old man. The police are convinced and don't let shoddy detective work or lack of evidence get in their way of prosecuting him in a high profile case. This film is all about the defense lawyer. As the film goes on you see that not is this guy badass, but he takes it personally that this kid has been wrongfully accused. From the same director as the fascinating "The Staircase" documentary miniseries.
    Grifty G Super Reviewer
  • Jul 09, 2008
    Intriguing doc on the murder case of 15 yr old Brenton Butler, accused of murdering a tourist in Florida. A must see for fans of legal procedures.
    Wu C Super Reviewer

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