This documentary tells the trial of Brenton Buttler, a 15 year-old black high school student who was arrested in Jacksonville, Florida, in 2000, for the murder of a tourist white woman. There is nothing special from a technical point of view about how the story is shown, in that respect the documentary feels like a larger version of the true crime series shown on Court TV.
Other than that, this is one of those kinds of stories that, infuriating though they may be, one should watch and think about. During the trial we see how the police did not conduct anything resembling a serious investigation; Buttler was arrested two hours after the crime, was intimidated and physically threatened into signing a confession and it mattered little that his family accounted for him at the time of the murder. Lacking (almost) any evidence, it is disconcerting how the officers involved in the case still insist on their conclusions, unwilling to admit a mistake or something even more serious. The victim’s husband’s visual identification of Buttler is the only evidence the police has, and the defense attorneys also shed doubts on its accuracy.
Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, the director, specializes in documentaries about justice and what he calls societal taboos. Murder was awarded the Oscar for Best Documentary of 2001.