What crime is committed at the beginning of the novel?

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At the beginning of the novel, two crimes are committed: rape and attempted murder.

In chapter 1, the author describes how these terrible crimes are committed against a defenseless 10-year-old African American girl Tonya. The perpetrators are Billy Ray Cobb and Pete Willard, two white men.

The men kidnap Tonya while she is returning to her home with groceries. Tonya had been sent on the errand by her mother, Gwen Hailey.

The men take Tonya to a secluded spot in the woods. They tie her right foot to an oak sapling and her left foot to the post of an old fence. The men then take turns raping Tonya and throwing punches at her face. By the time they are done, Tonya is bleeding profusely. Not content with their cruelty, the men throw their beer cans at her. Eventually, Tonya passes out from the pain and fatigue.

When she wakes up, Tonya is strung up on a rope. The men intend to kill her. However, their plans backfire after a car with loud tailpipes startles them. Willard and Cobb quickly throw Tonya into the back of their truck. Each goads the other to finish the killing. However, neither wants to be the one to inflict the final blow. Instead, they decide to dispose of Tonya's body as soon as they can.

The men drive around for a while, and eventually, Cobb finds a ravine and tosses Tonya's body into it. Tonya is eventually found, still alive. She is bleeding from her ankles to her forehead. Her suffering is the basis for the story and the trial of her father, Carl Lee Hailey, who shoots and kills Tonya's assailants.

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At the beginning of the novel, a heinous crime is committed by two white men: Pete Willard and Billy Ray Cobb. They kidnap ten-year-old Tonya Hailey who is walking along the gravel road on her way home from groceries shopping. They take her to the woods where the author goes ahead to provide the most disturbing graphic description of what the two do to the young girl.

They not only take turns raping her, but they also beat her, abuse her, piss on her, and hit her with beer cans in the most dehumanizing way. They then tie a noose around her neck so as to hang her, but their plan is interrupted by an oncoming truck. Finally, they abandon her to die, but she is discovered and taken home.

What follows is a series of dramatic events that include the men’s trial, their public shooting outside the courthouse by Tonya’s father, and attempts by a white lawyer, Jake Brigance to defend Tonya’s father.

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