Wanda Drapers shares her extensive experience as an expert witness in over a hundred murder cases through her book The Witness.
ReadersMagnet takes a peek at the state of America’s crime rate and a closer look at Wanda Draper’s book that features the psychology of criminal behavior, particularly those who are involved in murder crimes and manslaughter.
Murder Cases in the United States: A Number Steadily Rising
Despite the significant drop in the number of murder cases across the United States last year, the same cannot be said in major cities. Overall, the United States still registers a large number of murder and non-negligent manslaughter cases in the last decade. Many of these trial cases involve a possible death penalty. Among the 25 states that have the highest number of murder cases, 20 have the death penalty. Just recently, the Supreme Court debated whether the death penalty should be imposed on convicted murder criminals with low IQ, questioning whether a person who does not fully understand his actions may be held accountable. The debate is just among the many questions that the current justice system is facing. The Witness by Wanda Draper is very relevant because it tackles some of the questions that are pertinent today: “Is there genuine justice for the murder victims?” And “Which is the more just punishment, death penalty or a life sentence with no parole?”
The Witness: A Modern Crime Thriller
The 2016 non-fiction book The Witness is a compilation of Dr. Wanda Draper’s experience as an expert witness. For over 40 years and with over a hundred murder cases she involved herself with, The Witness takes readers into the dark and gripping realities of some of the most memorable court trials involving the death penalty. Dr. Wanda Draper’s The Witness is filled with drama, horror, and various emotions from the murderers, the lawyers, and of course, the victim’s families.
For over four decades, Dr. Draper has worked with families and children of murder victims in and out of the court to reconstruct the chilling and shocking sequences of circumstances and factors that lead to murder. She also discussed aftermaths and trauma left by these incidents. Dr. Wanda Draper’s first case involved two siblings-ages four and six. They had witnessed their father shot and killed their mother.
“Wanda thought about how Jackson was incomplete, caught between boyhood and a full-grown man: This unnatural combination of boy and beast makes him a brute. And, Jackson’s brutishness is his most egregious crime. Whispers and suspicious glances have always followed him throughout the community. Is anyone surprised that Jackson is connected to this horrible murder? No. Did anyone expect anything less from him? No.”– Excerpt from The Witness by Wanda Draper
What makes The Witness a unique read is that it is written like a novel. While the book is a work of non-fiction, Draper along with Collin Stutz (MFA), weaves an interesting narrative taking the readers to a unique courtroom experience. The book is written like a manuscript for one of those John Grisham novels. The Witness highlights Draper’s explanations for how defendants commit such crimes, allowing readers to ‘dissect the internal working model of a murderer and to discern the pattern and strains of violence from the interweaving of development and behavior.’
There is no such thing as light crime thrillers, yet Dr. Wanda Draper is a light read. Although it touches on some of the darkest and chilling aspects of murder cases, readers will find the pages easy to navigate and full of valuable insights. ReadersMagnet recommends The Witness by Dr. Wanda Draper.
About the Author
Wanda Draper, Ph.D., is a professor emeritus of the College of Medicine, University of Oklahoma. Draper also studied at Texas Woman’s University, with additional studies at Harvard University and in Geneva, Switzerland. She is an expert witness in over a hundred capital murder cases. Wanda Draper is the author of 16 books. She has appeared on television, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, and has been quoted in CNN News, USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Parent magazine, and Reader’s Digest.
Other Books by Wanda Draper, Ph. D.
Is There a Nanny in the House? Enriching Families with Nanny Know-How (1992)
Living and Working with Children (1993)
Your Child Is Smarter Than You Think (1993)
Emil’s Story (1993)