Most of you have at least heard of Serial – a podcast covering a true story. The first season covered the murder of a teenager, Hae Min Lee, in Baltimore and the man (and classmate) who was convicted of her murder. The facts were presented and at the end I honestly did not know whether he was guilty or not – though I do not believe there was sufficient evidence to convict.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution decided to do a similar podcast, Breakdown, covering an arson/murder case in rural Georgia. The name comes from the seeming breakdown of the legal system, as presented throughout this podcast. Bill Rankin, a legal affairs writer for the newspaper, hosts and does a good job. He has a good recording voice, which is actually important when choosing podcasts – you don’t want to spend hours listening to someone whose voice is annoying or whiny or monotone. The podcast dives deep into the details of the arson, and subsequent murder, and how the man, Justin, ended up being charged and convicted. These are great podcasts to run to because you kind of have to pay attention to the details to follow – so I’m not focused on how tired I am. I actually want to keep running because I want to know what happens next.
Unlike Serial, by the end of this podcast I was pretty confident that the system completely failed this poor guy who was convicted of murdering his neighbor and I do not think he was guilty. But you may form a different opinion. These make for good podcast topics because you don’t necessarily need visuals, though both Serial and Breakdown also had websites with more details including photos, maps, documents, etc. I cannot imagine, though, how much time it takes to completely go back through a murder investigation, reach out to everyone involved and those who may not have been involved but should have been. It’s fascinating to me, but also sad because our legal system is not perfect and people may be convicted of things they are not guilty of. And it’s basically opening a can of worms on cases like this.
Anyway, I enjoyed it. If you like crime shows on tv – Criminal Minds is my fav – you would enjoy both Serial and Breakdown. Similar….but real life. Let me know what you think! Is he guilty? Not guilty? Should he get a new trial?