St. Mary's Law Journal


As Karl Hammond’s case indicates, to serve justice, balance between the Kill Story and Human Story is necessary in a capital trial. This Essay seeks, through deconstruction of Karl Hammond’s case, to identify and illustrate the values of telling these combating stories. Part III describes the Kill Story and the Human Story in Karl’s case from the record of his trial, appeals, and petitions. Part III also demonstrates how the failure to tell one side of the story in either the guilt-innocence phase or the punishment phase can have a prejudicial effect on the jury’s decision. Part IV then discusses how, despite Karl’s attempts, the trial court prevented him from providing his own Human Story. Essentially, Part IV strives to demonstrate how persuasive the Kill Story can be if the defendant is not allowed to tell his story, particularly if denied the right to speak. This Essay seeks to reveal the necessity of providing both competing narratives. Otherwise, as Karl’s case shows, the Kill Story will inevitably prevail. Karl Hammond’s case demonstrates how an attorney has an extremely high burden to investigate, place before the jury, and argue the Human Story in a capital case. Furthermore, Karl’s case exemplifies how judges have an equally high burden to facilitate both narratives during each phase of a capital trial. Every important player within the system of justice in Karl’s drama—who should have ensured justice would be served—ultimately failed Karl, who, through no fault of his own, was effectively silenced. As a result, without the Human Story, the Kill Story triumphed.


St. Mary's University School of Law