Sunday Feature-Week 9: Murder on a Sunday Morning (2001)
Title: Murder on a Sunday Morning
Tone: Highly suspenseful, murder mystery, courtroom-drama documentary
Director- Jean-Xavier de Lestrade
Cast- Brenton Butler
What: Murder on a Sunday Morning follows the murder trail of Brenton Butler, a 15 yr old African-American accused of the murder of a tourist in Jacksonville,FL in May 2000.
- Winner of Best Documentary Feature at the 2001 Academy Awards, Murder on a Sunday Morning stands as an expose on racial profiling, inhumane interrogation practices, and unjust investigation practices.
- The stakes in Brenton Butler’s trial are so high, and the evidence against Butler is so strong (Butler confessed to the murder, signed a confession, and was positively identified as the murderer by a witness), and the fact that it is a real-life trial makes this an extremely engaging/suspenseful film.
- Murder on a Sunday Morning opened discussion on the necessity of video surveillance during police interrogations and scrutinizes unfair and unprofessional investigative and interrogative practices. Furthermore it stands as an important document of the affect of racism on the criminal justice system.
- Brenton Butler’s defense attorney, Pat McGuinness, might as well be straight out of a hard-boiled detective novel. His unyielding pursuit of proving Butler’s innocence, systematic discrediting of the prosecution, and overall hard-nosed demeanor makes him one of the most engaging aspects of the film. Below is a nice little clip exemplifying this, wherein he talks about his philosophy behind disproving witnesses who attempt to lie while under oath. Enjoy.