Part 4, Chapters 12–15 Summary

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Although the more influential and wealthy citizens of Garden City have not attended to trial, many decide to come on the day of the closing arguments. Many out-of-town visitors, especially lawyers, are also seated in the courtroom on the last day. The defense attorney pleads not for acquittal but for mercy, calling the death penalty a relic of barbarism and out of character with a Christian community. The prosecutor, however, states that murder is to be punished by death and supports this with quotations from the Bible. He repeats the order of the killings, that Kenyon had to wait in sight of his father’s murder, Nancy’s pleading, and Mrs. Clutter’s suffering as she listened to her family being systematically destroyed. He reminds the jury of many murderers who have been released on parole and who have gone on to kill again because of “chicken-hearted jurors.” The jury finds Perry Smith and Richard Hickock guilty on all charges and recommends the death penalty for both.

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Mrs. Meier later tells a friend how upset she was by the verdict even though she knew of Perry’s guilt. She had gotten to know him while he was in her home. She says that when he returned from the courthouse, all he did was cry while she held his hand.

Perry and Dick are transported to the state prison in Lansing and placed on death row. Among the others there is Lowell Lee Andrews, who is notorious for the murder of his own family. Outwardly, Andrews was a quiet, overweight, bookish student of biology at the University of Kansas, but inwardly he was forming plans...

(The entire section contains 437 words.)

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