Of Murder and Madness, a True Story of Insanity and the Law, (Doubleday, N.Y. l983)
Of Murder and Madness is the remarkable true story of a little-known Mexican-American from a remote Wyoming town who one day killed his white wife in a room full of witnesses-and it is attorney Gerry Spence’s own story as well, as he pleads his client, Joe Esquibel, “not guilty by reason of insanity.”
Later, after the John Hinckley verdict, America was rocked by protest that in our country a would-be killer should escape by claiming insanity. Insane!
Who is really insane? What is insanity, and what are its roots? Whom can we trust to detect it? And, just possibly, might we all be smitten with the disease in this insane world? Rarely has a writer thrust us so straightforwardly into such frightful and squalid places out of which murder and madness are spawned. Spence, in search of these answers, takes us with him into the racking drama of the insanity trial of Esquibel.
This is the compelling story of two Wyoming boys who grew up on opposite sides of the social and moral tracks; one to become a killer and the other the killer’s lawyer. It is the story of their heroic mothers, of a tormented people, and of men fighting to find themselves, to find justice, and to find meaning in what often seems to be a meaningless world.