Episode 5

He would have said just about anything for $5,000, and he did.
Justin Chapman’s new defense team -- including Mike Caplan (pictured) -- sifts through the evidence and uncovers critical breakdowns in the prosecution of Chapman, including several pieces of evidence that Chapman's public defender Jan Hankins says she never received, and the testimony of witnesses that Hankins never had time to visit. Listen to Episode 5 of "Breakdown: railroad justice in a railroad town."
Law School 101
What went wrong
Who's Who
Former Durham County (N.C.) District Attorney Mike Nifong, seen here in 2006, was punished for a Brady violation involving his prosecution of three Duke lacrosse players who were accused of rape. Nifong  served a day in jail and was disbarred when it was found that he lied about withholding exculpatory DNA evidence. (AP Photo/Jeffrey A. Camarati)
Law School 101: When the prosecution withholds evidence

By Bill Rankin

Before John L. Brady went to trial for robbery and murder, his defense attorney asked the prosecutor to turn over statements that Brady’s co-defendant had given to authorities.

The prosecutors turned over some, but not all, of co-defendant Charles Boblit’s statements.

The later discovery that one of Boblit’s statements had been withheld would eventually change the course of criminal jurisprudence. It would lead to Brady v. Maryland, the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that requires prosecutors to turn over evidence favorable to the defense.

An exterior view of the Haralson County courthouse in Buchanan, Ga. This is where Justin Chapman was tried, in 2007, on charges that he set fire to his house and killed his neighbor, Alice Jackson, in the process. (HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM)
The Justin Chapman case: How a murder prosecution unfolds

UPDATED: The Justin Chapman case serves as an example of repeated breakdowns at nearly every level of the criminal justice system in Georgia. Here are the steps showing how the Chapman case unfolded. This article has now been updated with details about where the system’s breakdowns took place, and the effects they had on the case.


Justin Chapman’s case has seen many twists and turns since the 2006 arson fire that took his neighbor’s life. This timeline marks the major events in the case. More events will be added to the timeline with each episode as Chapman’s story unfolds.