Dawn Loves A Murderer

Documentary about the relationship between convicted serial killer Lemuel Smith and Dawn Langley Simmons, and Smith's murder trial, during which he was defended by William Kunstler.

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0:10Copy video clip URL Dawn Langley Simmons reads an article reads a letter from convicted serial killer Lemuel Smith, who is about to be executed for murder. She talks about Lemuel’s lack of fear of dying. “This is what they can’t understand,” ”he’s absolutely at peace.” 

1:42Copy video clip URL “This is a story about Dawn Langley Simmons and Lemuel Smith.”

2:02Copy video clip URL Attorney William Kunstler talks about the defense of the case.

2:10Copy video clip URL Lemuel Smith talks about the autopsy report of the girl.

2:20Copy video clip URL June 10th, 1983 Poughkeepsie, New York. Protesters march outside the courthouse, and Langley shows appreciation of the protests.

3:10Copy video clip URL Kunstler enters the County Court House along with others.

3:35Copy video clip URL “After the Sentencing.” Simmons claims that the judge’s sentencing was unjust, and that he dealt with the case in terms of race and politics. Simmons says she was more impressed by Smith’s speech to the court than anyone else’s performance. She talks about persecution of blacks as the mother of a black child, and mentions Smith holding her daughter’s picture.

5:25Copy video clip URL Kunstler talks about potential appeals for Smith’s case, based on the racism of the case. Smith’s death sentence is the first for New York in 20 years.

7:10Copy video clip URL Kunstler talks about meeting Smith through the NAACP, who was contacted by Smith’s mother. He talks about the convincing case that someone else killed the girl. He talks about obstructions to the case, such as anonymous callers afraid to testify, and people ruled unfit to testify. “I don’t think the jury could overcome things they’re not even conscious of.”

11:20Copy video clip URL Lemuel Smith is lead out of the courtroom pleading his innocence. The mirrors of the van reflect the people looking in at him. Innovative shot that shows Smith as the focus of many questioning eyes.

12:40Copy video clip URL “Dawn Langley Simmons Interviews Lemuel Smith.” Simmons asks Smith how he feels now that he’s finally had his say in court. “I feel relieved.” He talks about the inability of his prosecutors to even look at him.

13:35Copy video clip URL She asks Smith about the media coverage. “It’s my hopes that they’ll just print what I said, as I said it.” Smith says that he can back up everything he has said in court. Smith talks about shady autopsy proceedings. He talks about bite marks on the body matching an outdated mold of his teeth, and do not reflect recent dental work. He gives compelling evidence that evidence against him was planted. Very much like Errol Morris’ The Thin Blue Line. Simmons pledges her support for Smith.

17:04Copy video clip URL Simmons says, “Love is the most maligned word in the English language, yet you express love so often and so readily… I want to know as a woman, how are you able to do this when you’ve been treated so badly by life?”

18:15Copy video clip URL Simmons asks about the law-enforcement suspects in the murder of the girl. Smith talks about inside evidence that the girl’s husband knew who was going to kill her, because she had told him. Smith says that the family’s response is just inconsistent, because they want someone to be found guilty.

20:12Copy video clip URL Simmons asks how Smith can keep his hope up. Smith says that the support of people who love him and believe in him, as well as his devotion to God, are responsible for his ability to work through it.

20:51Copy video clip URL Simmons asks about Smith’s ability with children, especially in her regard to her own daughter. Smith says he has a strong belief in family.

22:20Copy video clip URL Simmons talks about Smith being seen as a folk hero, a “modern John Brown.” Smith says the people who see him as a hero believe in God’s idea that anybody who wants to change can change.

23:26Copy video clip URL Simmons asks Smith about the people who are now rallying to his side, in the worst of times. Smith says that “not only do I have people to love, I have people who love me,” which gets him through hard times.

25:15Copy video clip URL Simmons asks about Smith’ s plans if he makes it through the ordeal. Smith says he plans to talk and write about his experience, hoping that other people will learn from it.

26:10Copy video clip URL Simmons asks about the power of poetry to bring Simmons, Smith and Kunstler together. Smith says that fellow poets see the emotion behind the word s, and not mere expression. Simmons asks Smith if he plans to continue his art, and he says yes.

27:40Copy video clip URL Simmons asks Smith if he has a message for her daughter, and he says he wishes he were coming home to her. Smith thanks everyone involved in the interview for allowing her to do the interview.

29:10Copy video clip URL End Credits.

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