Part 4, Chapters 16–18 Summary

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Perry and Dick are scheduled to be executed on May 13, 1961, but are granted a stay of execution pending the outcome of an appeal for a new trial with different lawyers. Lowell Lee Andrews is awaiting a similar verdict. Perry and Dick barely speak to each other. Andrews frequently corrects Perry’s grammar, which irritates Perry because he saw himself as an expert on the English language. After one incident of being corrected by Andrews, Perry goes on a hunger strike. After not eating for five days, Perry is transferred to a state hospital where he is force-fed. Over the next nine weeks, Perry loses more than fifty pounds. Dick is not impressed even when it is reported that Perry is in a coma; he proclaims that Perry is faking it. Dick and Andrews become friends of a sort. Perry drifts in and out of consciousness, frequently dreaming of being a one-man show on the stage. The warden shows him a postcard from Perry’s father, who asks to visit Perry. Perry throws it away.

After two years awaiting the appeal, only Perry, Dick, and Andrews are left on Death Row at Lansing. Mrs. Hickock visits monthly. She tells Dick that his father has died and she has lost the farm and is essentially homeless, living with one relative after another. Dick writes letters to multiple organizations, pleading for their assistance for a new trial. He claims that his attorneys were incompetent and biased because they knew the victims, as did all of the jurors and the judge. In the meantime, two more prisoners arrive on Death Row. These are two former soldiers who went on a killing spree across the country and are now awaiting execution.

Eventually, Dick’s letters find a sympathetic ear with Everett Steerman, Chairman of the Legal Aid Committee of the Kansas Bar Association. He launches an investigation in which the jurors and Judge Tate are questioned as to their objectivity. The jurors claim to have not been acquainted with any of the Clutters and to have approached the trial with an open mind as to Dick and Perry’s innocence. Judge Tate answers charges that he refused to request a change of venue by stating that by state law only the attorneys can request such a change, and they did not. The Kansas Supreme Court decides that Richard Hickock and Perry Smith had a constitutionally fair trial and set October 25, 1962, as the new date of execution. However, they are given a reprieve by a federal judge. Andrews is put to death.

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