HBO's gripping new true crime documentary series sounds like essential viewing
Racism, corruption, and the search for truth.
While Netflix have arguably established themselves as the main players in the documentary genre, it's worth noting that HBO have an incredibly impressive record when it comes to commissioning true crime features.
In recent years, the broadcaster has made the likes of Capturing the Friedmans, The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, Paradise Lost, and The Case Against Adnan Syed.
In their next feature, they'll be examining the murder of Garrett Phillips at his home in Potsdam, a small town in upstate New York.
On 24 October 2011, 12-year-old Garrett Phillips was murdered.
Police quickly zeroed in on a suspect for this unthinkable crime: Oral “Nick” Hillary, a black man that was living in a mostly white community.
Hillary was a football coach at Clarkson University and the ex-boyfriend of Garrett’s mother, Tandy Cyrus.
Who Killed Garrett Phillips? is a two-part documentary that looks at the case from the initial investigation through the arrest and numerous legal twists and turns that culminated in Hillary’s trial for murder five years after the crime. In doing so, the documentary raises troubling questions of racial bias and issues surrounding policing and the criminal justice system.
The documentary starts with the murder of 12-year-old Garrett Phillips and depicts the subsequent trial of Nick Hillary. The two-episodes will chronicle the five years following the murder, as Garrett’s grief-stricken family and community relentlessly seek justice, and Hillary desperately fights to prove his innocence.
Ultimately, after losing his job, Hillary tries to move forward with his life while caring for his five children. He files a civil case against the Potsdam police department.
Mary Rain, the new district attorney, makes it her mission to put Garrett’s murderer behind bars, but Hillary is charged with second degree murder based on testimony given during his civil case. Despite holes in the prosecution’s case, both sides prepare for a bench trial without a jury, as national media attention raises important issues of race and bias in policing techniques.
Two-time Academy Award-nominee and Emmy-winner Liz Garbus is directing this feature and in terms of its aesthetic approach, Who Killed Garrett Phillips? will feature in-depth interviews with a variety of people linked to the case, as well as extensive police audio and video recordings and courtroom footage.
The documentary seeks to uncover the truth behind the horrific murder of a young boy that traumatised a town.
Who Killed Garrett Phillips? is just one part of a trilogy that HBO have commissioned because the broadcaster have two other features to be released involving mysterious deaths and complicated trials.
I Love You, Now Die and Behind Closed Doors are also bound to interest true crime viewers.
At present, Who Killed Garrett Phillips? is set to air un the US on 23 July. As always, we expect Sky Atlantic to be showing it shortly after.
Take a look at what's in store.
Clip via HBO