On the wintry evening of February 9, 1976, George Wilhelm was stabbed 23 times on the 8th-floor rooftop of a parking garage in downtown Pittsburgh and thrown over the edge of the building. Instead of falling to the ground, Wilhelm landed on a ledge one floor below. Although mortally wounded, he lived long enough to name his killer to the police officer who found him. “Clarence – Clarence Miller did this to me.”
Taken into custody the next morning, Miller, a minor courthouse factotum, fingered Charles “Zeke” Goldblum as Wilhelm’s killer. A 26-year-old tax lawyer at a prominent accounting firm, a part-time university instructor, and a dutiful citizen with no criminal record, Goldblum was also a son of a prominent local Rabbi. After an interview at his office that afternoon, police detectives also arrested Goldblum.
With a dying declaration and two suspects behind bars, it looked like an open and shut case. Or was it?
Over the ensuing months, homicide detectives developed a complex backstory, one they said involved land fraud and arson. Based entirely on Miller’s perjured testimony and a series of highly questionable police and prosecutorial steps, Goldblum was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Ten months later, Miller was also convicted of Wilhelm’s killing and given the same sentence.
The problem is, Goldblum’s conviction has since been called a “miscarriage of justice” both by the judge who presided over his trial and the Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted him. Along with many others, they believe Goldblum was wrongly and wrongfully convicted, sentenced to life in prison for crimes he did not commit, and trapped by a system which neither offers clemency nor is willing to admit its errors.
Willful Blindness: A Diligent Pursuit of Justice meticulously documents the infamous murder and its subsequent prosecutions and convictions through the eyes of different observers. In addition to reports from Jim Ramsey, a private investigator and former police detective who has worked on this case for over a decade, there are personal accounts from Zeke Goldblum. Other chapters include reports, analyses, and testimony by two noted forensic pathologists, Dr. Cyril Wecht and Dr. Joshua Perper. The book’s final chapter, The Public Record, is a rare archive. It presents twelve of the 115 newspaper articles that covered the case’s unfolding, as well as the evolution of public perception about it and those involved.
Each observer circles through the basic elements of the case, emphasizing different aspects and making different deductions. Yet, all reach the same conclusion. This multi-perspective approach makes for fascinating read and in-depth analysis, providing something like a parallax of proof.
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