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- Jacob Loveless, an "ignorant hillbilly", was convicted of the murder of two teenagers on a road abutting the property of the father of his girlfriend, Carrie Walker, who originally provided an alibi for him but then withdrew it. She had made one statement that provided Loveless with an alibi, claiming she was with him to one o'clock in the wee small hours of the morning, when the murders were determined to have taken place at 11 PM. She had then withdrawn the original statement, issuing a second statement saying she had been with her father at the time of the murders.
Loveless was spared the death penalty as he was very young at the time of the murders. Incarcerated for 22 years, has been denied parole four times despite educating himself and being a model prisoner. The Court of Last Resort sends an investigator to find out why he has been denied parole. Claiming his innocence, Loveless tells the investigator that he was drunk that night, passed out, and went to sleep in Carrie's chicken coop. He then woke up in the morning and found the bodies of the slain teenagers. The motive for the murder was robbery, as the prosecution established the young man who was slain had several dollars on him. Loveless says that he had only 13 cents on him. Where did the money go if had killed the kids and robbed them?
Former District Attorney Edward Kruger, the D.A. who put him in prison, has constantly objected to parole for Loveless. He is now a member of the parole board, and though he has allowed parole for other convicted murderers, he has continued to block Loveless' release. A member of the parole board sets up a meeting with the Court of Last Resort investigator and Kruger, but he insists Loveless is guilty.
The investigator then goes to Kruger's home to ask him for permission to investigate his files. He gets permission from Kruger, who is imbibing an alcoholic beverage during their time together.
A perusal of the files with the current D.A. reveals that there was a second set of footprints at the scene of the crime that could have been used as exculpatory evidence by the defense. Transcribing Kruger's personal notebook, which was written in shorthand, reveals that the second set of footprints belonged to Carrie's father. Yet, the existence of the prints were suppressed by Kruger. Alerted by his former secretary who has transcribed his shorthand, Kruger enters the D.A.'s office in a drunken state to reclaim his notebook and cast aspersions on the new D.A., who had once been his assistant. He claims the D.A. has political ambitions.
A meeting between the investigator and current D.A. with Loveless' former girlfriend, Carrie, on her father's property near the scene of the crime bears no fruit as it is broken up by her father. Later, they learn that Carrie has been assaulted by her father with a hatchet. Visiting her in the hospital, she admits she changed her story to protect her father, whom she was afraid of. She said that Kruger didn't care who she provided an alibi for, and let her decide whom he would hang for the murders. (She said that Kruger said that handing him Loveless by protecting her father gave him a better case.) She admits that her father was a violent man who could go wild and likely killed the kids.
The investigator and the D.A. go to Kruger's house to confront him, but he is hopelessly drunk and collapses. His wife tells them that her husband had been ambitious and planned to use the case to advance his political career, but his dreams were never realized. He's a good man, she said, but he made a mistake and began his descent into alcoholism because of it. She said that he refused to allow Loveless to be paroled as he was afraid to confront him, though he actually was afraid to confront himself.
Loveless receives a full pardon and is allowed to leave jail to take his place in society.