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Memories, manipulation and ******: a true crime docuseries tests the form

Mind Over Murder, a six-part series, searches for reconciliation in a town divided by the wrongful conviction of six people for a 1985 murder Mind Over Murder, a new six-part documentary series on HBO, has all the elements one would expect from a true crime show: a shocking and grotesque murder, a dubious and protracted police investigation and divergent theories as to what happened. There are first-person interviews and archival footage, criminal records and old newspaper headlines – but Mind Over Murder, from One Child Nation director Nanfu Wang, opens not at the scene of the crime, but within the long shadow of its aftermath. The initial talking heads are not witnesses but local actors in a play about how an investigation into the 1985 rape and murder of 68-year-old Helen Wilson led to the wrongful conviction of six people and divided the small town of Beatrice, Nebraska. The play, conceived by Wang and developed by the Beatrice (pronounced bee-AT-tris) community theater using trial transcripts, court records and input from the all-local cast, confronts a painful rift within the town of about 12,500 people in rural south-eastern Nebraska. Thirty-years after Wilson was murdered, many in Beatrice, including Wilson’s family, still believed that the so-called Beatrice Six – convicted in 1989 and exonerated based on DNA evidence in 2009 – were guilty. Continue reading...

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