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Friends of the Library presents award-winning author Batt Humphreys March 15

Story comes to life as the author tries to prove the innocence of the main character of his book

Batt_Humphreys_3webA century-old Charleston, S.C. case that resulted in the trial and last known execution by hanging in South Carolina was the subject of a modern-day appeal to prove his innocence. On. Jan. 26, 2011, Batt Humphreys, author of the novel “Dead Weight,” author of the novel “Dead Weight,” based on the crime of Daniel Duncan who was accused of murdering a store clerk, petitioned for a posthumous pardon for Duncan. Humphrey attempted to persuade the South Carolina Board of Paroles and Pardons to see the execution as he does, a 'judicial lynching' of a black man in the Jim Crow-era South.

Humphreys will share his feelings on why he felt the panel refused to pardon Duncan last month, details about his book, and the journey of his fight to prove the man's innocence during Pfeiffer University's Friends of the Library Annual author's luncheon on Tuesday, March 15. The event will begin at 11 a.m. in the Community Room of the Stokes Student Center. There will be an opportunity to meet the author and autographed books will be available.

The novel is based on the true story of the State vs. Daniel Duncan. It depicts the details of the 1910 trial, conviction and execution of Daniel “Nealy” Duncan, a young black man of 'respectable employment and manners,' arrested for murder on the eve of his wedding. The novel tells of a love story, described by one reviewer as “Shakespearean” in its tragic reality.

In “Dead Weight,” Hal Hinson is a fictional reporter from New York assigned to cover the Duncan trial. Through his narration we see the beauty of Charleston, the ugliness of the racial divide, and a struggle between two lawyers for the life of a man accused of murder. The reader also comes to know the real character of the accused through the transcripts of actual court testimony. History wrote the story's ending and there is a chance that another request for an appeal will be granted. 

“Dead Weight” is Humphreys' first published novel, which has been accepted with acclaim – and called “a stunning story, masterfully told” and described as “moving…heart-pounding…poignant.” Humphreys is the recipient of four awards including the 2010 Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Work of Historic Fiction and the 2010 IPPY Gold Medal for Best True Crime.

bookcover2A Georgia native who now resides outside of Charleston, S.C., Humphreys made his start in a television career in Charleston in the 1980's. He spent 15 years in New York working for CBS News before deciding he would rather be back in the “south.” His reporting career covered many key events throughout the past 25 years, including elections, wars, weather disasters, and September 11, 2001.

The cost of the event is $25 for members of the Friends of the Library and $30 for non-members. Checks can be made payable to Friends of the Library and sent to: Friends of the Library, Pfeiffer University, P.O. Box 930, Misenheimer, N.C. 28109. All interested must RSVP by March 8 to Lara Little at (704) 463-3353 or

Established in 1885, Pfeiffer University continues to celebrate its 125th anniversary this year. A comprehensive United Methodist-related institution, Pfeiffer is committed to providing educational excellence, service and scholarship across North Carolina, from Charlotte to Misenheimer to Raleigh, and online. Visit Pfeiffer at or


 Media contact: Natasha A. Suber, (704) 463-3040 or

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