Justin Chapman was convicted eight years ago of burning down his own house in Bremen, Ga., and killing the elderly woman who lived next door. It was the kind of thoughtless, heartless crime that should land you in prison forever. Unless you didn’t do it. Welcome to the first season of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's “Breakdown” podcast.
You can listen to the episodes at the links below, or go to the iTunes store to binge listen the entire series.
For more information on Chapman's case:
EPISODE 1: Railroad justice in a railroad town. An introduction to Justin Chapman's trial. Senior legal affairs writer Bill Rankin goes deep inside the case, exploring where the criminal justice system broke down.
EPISODE 2: Public defender lost but never gave up. As a public defender in 2007, Jan Hankins didn’t have time to prepare for the arson and murder trial of Justin Chapman. When Chapman was found guilty, Hankins refused to give up on his cause, and searched for years for an attorney who would take his case.
EPISODE 3: The view from the stoop, the botched appeal. Reporter Bill Rankin goes to Bremen in the dark of night, and with the help of an Army veteran, tests what you can see from "Stroupe's stoop." Could Gary Allen Stroupe have seen Justin Chapman from his front porch? Plus, Chapman experiences the appeal from hell.
EPISODE 4: Interlude — Of prison riots and mountain trackers. The Justin Chapman murder case attracts a new defense team full of heavy hitters and colorful characters. In this episode, we take a detour from the case in order to introduce you to some of the players who came to Chapman's aid, and learn why they took on the case for free.
EPISODE 5: What the new defense team found. Justin Chapman’s new defense team 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.
EPISODE 6: What is the case against Justin Chapman? Through the first five episodes of “Breakdown,” we’ve concluded that Justin Chapman did not receive a fair trial. But we’ve never said whether he’s guilty of the crimes of which he was convicted. So COULD Chapman have committed the arson that killed Alice Jackson? Did he have the means, the motive, the opportunity?
EPISODE 7: Chapman at the threshold of freedom. In the "final" episode of Breakdown, we find out whether Justin Chapman gets to walk out of prison after serving eight years in confinement. A South Georgia judge has already ruled in his favor, throwing out his convictions, but the state appeals that decision to the Georgia Supreme Court.
EPISODE 8: After a year's wait, a concluding decision. Justin Chapman awaits the all-important decision from the state's prosecutors: will they put him back on trial for murder and arson or end the long-running legal drama that put him in state prison for eight years? This concluding episode has all the answers.
Also available: Season 2: "Breakdown: Death in a Hot Car — Mistake or Murder?"