A Time to Kill movie poster
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A Time to Kill movie poster

A Time to Kill - Movie Synopsis & Plot

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The little, black girl is walking home when two men attack her. They rape her, beat her, throws beer cans at her, and throw her off a bridge. The police swiftly apprehend the men but the girl's father, Carl Lee Hailey, fears the worst. Just last year a group of men got off for raping a black person. So, scared of their release, Hailey kills the two men with a machine gun, in the middle of the courthouse.

Just the night before, struggling lawyer Jack Brigance swore that he would help Hailey if he got in a jam. He takes the case, even though he knows Hailey is guilty, and plans to tell the court that his client was insane at the time of the murder. Things will not be easy. Rufus Buckley is prosecuting, as smart, slick, and prominent as you can get. The judge is hard-lined, stern, and stubborn, the jury the exact opposite of what Brigance wanted.

And then there's the conflicts arising in Canton. Sparking a war of racism, the KKK take to the streets, trying to reclaim their dying "glory." Brigance finds that not only his career on the line but his life, and all those around him. The KKK try and ultimately do burn his house. They kill his secretary's husband. And they leave Ellen Roark, Brigance's free-for-hire law student, to die slowly in the woods. Revenge, hatred, and racism collide in a deadly mix while all the while, Brigance, Hailey, and the rest wait for one of two words: Innocent, or guilty?

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