New Fiction by T. Felder Dorn is of Crime & Justice in American Heartland

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“Death of a Policeman; Birth of a Baby” is a riveting narrative of events in an earlier era is relevant to the legal maneuvers and issues of conscience that characterize death penalty cases today

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In his gripping new book about true crime and its mitigating human factors, T. Felder Dorn studies the fascinating details of an impulsive murder and the many dimensions of justice and the American legal system. Death of a Policeman; Birth of a Baby starts on a highway near Fort Mill in South Carolina. Dorn masterfully recreates the setting and events leading up to a policeman’s death and then describes the consequences both for his family and for the soon-to-be-born daughter of the woman convicted of the crime.

On July 17, 1932, on a highway near Fort Mill in the state of South Carolina, rural policeman Elliott Harris was attempting to arrest Beatrice Snipes’s husband Clyde for reckless driving. Mrs. Snipes intervened, snatching Harris’s pistol from its holster and fatally shooting him. After her trial in December of that year, she became the first woman in South Carolina sentenced to die by electrocution. Beatrice, however, was pregnant at the time of the crime and was in her eighth month when she was sentenced to be executed on a date about three months after she would have given birth to her child.                            

This sentence generated a firestorm of negative reaction, and the Governor of South Carolina in January 1933 commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. Beatrice’s daughter Jean was soon born. Thereafter she would spend the first seven months of life with her mother in prison. When she was removed from her mother’s custody, a secret adoption was arranged, and neither Beatrice nor Clyde was told by whom Jean had been adopted. T. Felder Dorn has written a quietly forceful, beautifully-crafted narrative that sweeps the reader into a less complex era in American history to examine how the legal system responded to its charge to administer justice fairly and humanely in the case of a sensational crime. Dorn follows the events that happened as a direct consequence of the crime, especially Jean’s story.
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About the Author
Felder Dorn is the author of two books published by the University of South Carolina Press: The Guns of Meeting Street: A Southern Tragedy (2001), and Challenges on the Emmaus Road (in press), about the role of Episcopal Bishops in the Civil War era. A native of South Carolina, Dr. Dorn’s professional career included service on the chemistry faculties of The University of the South in Sewanee, TN, and Kean University in Union, NJ, as well as serving as a dean and vice president at Kean. Between his time at Sewanee and his tenure at Kean, he spent several years on the staff of the College Board in New York.
Death of a Policeman; Birth of a Baby * by T. Felder Dorn
Publication Date: July 30, 2012
Trade Paperback; $19.99; 208 pages; 978-1-4771-1983-9
Trade Hardback; $29.99; 208 pages; 978-1-4771-1984-6
eBook; $3.99; 978-1-4771-1985-3
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