The Hurricane Murders


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Trustworthy or not, it was all De Simone had. He charged Carter and Artis and the case went to trial on 7 April Life imprisonment awaited Carter and Artis. There was no death penalty, however; a juror later said of Artis: "We didn't want to kill the kid. Prisoner number was described on his admission sheet as a "hostile, aggressive individual" who, according to the prison psychologist, would be "manipulative and violent to obtain his self-centered desires". Carter arrived at Trenton State Prison in and immediately informed the authorities that he would not wear the prison uniform, he would not work in the prison, he would not eat the prison food and he would not do anything for the guards.

Then you are going to have to kill me. Right then, and right here, because if you don't kill me, I will kill you. Carter was angry at the justice system, at the police, at everyone. He would only let his wife and baby daughter visit him once a month, fearing that his wife would be badly affected. Not that he was in a position to receive visitors. Soon after arriving, he was sent to the hole.

The hole. A prison within a prison. It was solitary confinement; a tiny, dark room in the bowels of the prison, containing a concrete slab of a bed and a bucket in place of a toilet. While he was there, Carter felt unwell; there was something wrong with his eye. The prison doctor diagnosed a detached retina, which Carter put down to an old boxing injury.

Other prisoners thought it was the result of a fight in the mess hall. Carter was in pain and, if it wasn't treated, it would end the boxing career he intended to resume on his release. He wanted to have the operation outside prison but the authorities would not let him leave the grounds. He had the surgery in the prison hospital. When he woke, he could see nothing but darkness out of his right eye. His sight was gone.


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His days as the 'Hurricane' were over. Fred Hogan was lying in bed in his barracks in Germany, reading clippings sent by his father about his old friend Rubin.

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He felt something wasn't right; his former sparring partner didn't seem to have been given a fair trial. Before long, he was sleeping in a cell to cut down his travelling time. He called himself number and-a-half - midway between Carter and Artis' prison numbers. Hogan began digging. He went to visit Bradley, who brandished a baseball bat as he welcomed him to the house. He went to the jail where Bello was serving time. Bello mentioned he had been promised a reward for his testimony; Bradley said he had been promised a deal that never materialised.

Bello said he had seen two black guys outside the bar, but he wasn't sure it was Carter or Artis. Bradley agreed. His fury at his trial - the fact he was "tried by 12 white folks" rather than "Muhammad Ali, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder… this was the jury of my peers" - channelled into his writing. Using toilet paper, the only material to hand, Carter painstakingly wrote his autobiography, which was smuggled out by any means possible.

A copy of The Sixteenth Round made its way to Dylan. Dylan finished his tour of England in and, on his way home, made a detour to the Clinton Correctional Facility, where Carter awaited him. The song became the heartbeat of Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue tour, which included that special show inside Carter's prison. Ali was brought into the fold by Lipton, an old friend of Carter's. Carter and Ali did not like each other; Carter found Ali rude, while Ali was wary of Carter's friendship with rival boxer Sonny Liston.

But Lipton knew the importance of having someone as well respected as Ali on board. Two weeks later, after their rivalry played out in front of one billion viewers, Frazier and Ali stood together to speak in Carter's defence. As the celebrities kept the case in the public eye, Hogan worked the legal side.

He got hold of a tape on which Bello was told he would be looked after should he identify Carter and Artis.

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These transcripts had not been seen by the defence teams at the original trial. Madison Square Garden hosted one of Carter's biggest victories. Now, in , it was full of people fighting for his freedom. Carter was there in spirit if not body as Dylan, Stevie Wonder and Isaac Hayes took to the stage to raise money for Carter's legal fund.

The money was more important than ever - now a retrial had been ordered, Carter would only be able to get out of prison before the proceedings if he could post bail. But there was no sign of the concert money. Carter suspected a thief in the ranks. At Deer Lake training camp, Muhammad Ali's phone rang. It was Carter. He needed money.


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  4. Ali wanted to know how much; Carter said it would be substantial. John doesn't have any money. The next day, Carter and Artis stood on the court steps, blinking into the glare of the camera lights. They were free. For now. Artis went to visit the Lafayette Bar, to stand in the place where the triple murder he had been accused of had occurred. The Carters had no money. Daughter Theodora watched as the family had their benefits cut off now her father was free. Both were wary. Artis had butterflies as he made his way to his seat. Carter was composed but feeling abandoned; he believed the famous friends who had attached themselves to his cause had disappeared once he had been released.

    Things quickly went wrong.

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    Media missed the real story of the late Hurricane Carter (Mulshine)

    Bello once again changed his statement to place Carter and Artis at the scene, and the prosecution introduced a devastating racial revenge theory. Before the Lafayette shooting, a black publican - Roy Holloway - was murdered by a white man - Frank Conforti. Holloway's step-son was Eddie Rawls, a barman at the club where Carter and Artis had been on the night of the murders. The prosecution, playing on the 'angry black man' stereotype, claimed the murder of three white people in a bar that did not serve black patrons was an attempt to avenge Holloway's killing.

    Artis became so disheartened he stopped going to court. Carter front and Artis behind him outside the courthouse. Midway through the trial, the front page of the local paper displayed a photograph of Carolyn Kelley. She had been one of Carter's most prominent black supporters. Here she was, lying in a hospital bed, claiming Carter had beaten her up in Maryland.

    The article documented how Carter had attacked the woman who had helped secure his release. Carter denied the claims to his lawyers, calling it "complete bullshit", but the damage, and the negative press attention, was done. Carter's refusal to take the stand would not have helped. The first time around, the jury deliberated for six hours.

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    This time, it was for nine. The outcome was the same. Life in prison. His support had quietened, but one year-old boy and a group of Canadians were about to find their voices.

    Rubin "Hurricane" Carter (1991) - the fifth estate

    Carolyn Kelley - the charges of assault against Carter were later dropped. Lesra Martin knew he had graduated with the third highest mark in his class. Yet he also knew he could not read or write. He also knew things had changed for him. He had gone from living in a New York ghetto to an Ontario mansion with a Canadian commune.

    Revisiting the Hurricane Carter murder case 53 years later with memoir

    He was in a warehouse on the waterfront when the book caught his eye. A huge, bald black man stared out at him from the cover, his eyes following Martin around the room. As he stepped forward, another customer leaned in to the book bin and took the copy of The Sixteenth Round. Martin watched as the man walked away, Rubin Carter's face peering out from the crook of his arm. Something told him to follow.

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