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Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Excellent condition library sale book. Two stickers, but dust jacket is pristine otherwise and book is so clean as to appear Like New other than two small library sticker.
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Trout: A True Story of Murder, Teens, and the Death Penalty Hardcover – April 15, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The practice of trying juveniles as adults and forcing them to serve the same terms as adults, often referred to as act negates age—an approach that has been adopted by a number of states since 1978—takes center stage here. Kunerth, a journalist with the Orlando Sentinel, dissects a murder-for-hire plot at Trout Auto Parts in Pensacola, Florida, in 1991, that ended with the wrong victim dead and with three teens on death row (two of whom just sat in the getaway car while the third committed the murder). At one level, this is superb beat reporting; Kunerth brings the two worlds of genteel Pensacola and nearby, busted-out Brownsville to vivid life. At another level, the book offers a vivid, In Cold Blood–like examination of a crime gone wrong and its aftermath. On the deepest level, though, Kunerth writes meditatively about what it means to be a young person with very few opportunities and a lifetime to regret what happened in just a few minutes. This is both a gripping true-crime story and a powerful argument for overturning the wrong of juvenile sentencing. --Connie Fletcher

Book Description

A haunting tale of teenage murderers, mistaken identity, and a brutal justice system

"In the tradition of Truman Capote 's In Cold Blood, Kunerth's Trout is seductive, repulsive, and compelling. I read it in one sitting. How fascinating is Trout? I begged my wife to read the first ten pages, and she, too, was hooked."--Gary R. Mormino, author of Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams: A Social History of Modern Florida

"Kunerth skillfully provides a narrative, dramatic understanding of adolescent immaturity, the tragic consequences when it goes awry, and the chilling disconnect between our social constructions of adolescent immaturity and the harsh consequences awaiting teens in our criminal justice system."--Robert Kinscherff, Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology 

On a cool Pensacola night in January 1991, just a few minutes before midnight, three teenagers pulled up to the Trout Auto Parts store. Patrick Bonifay, his body coursing with adrenaline, entered the store clad in a ski mask carrying a loaded gun, intent on carrying out a poorly laid plan. Little did he know that it was his life--as well as the lives of his companions--that was about to be forever changed.
     Bonifay, Clifford Barth, and Eddie Fordham were hired to kill Daniel Wells by Robin Archer, who blamed Wells for losing his job nine months prior. The plan was orchestrated by the then-twenty-seven-year-old Archer, who allegedly promised his seventeen-year-old nephew, Patrick, a suitcase full of money after the job was done. But Wells had called in sick that night, and an innocent man was covering his shift.
     In this shocking and thought-provoking volume, Jeff Kunerth recounts the events of that fateful night, the swift investigation of the murder, the trials and sentencing of the teens, and their subsequent lives within the Florida court and penal systems. Kunerth uses the story of the Trout Auto Parts murder and the lives of these boys to explore varying aspects of troubled adolescence, impulsive actions lasting but moments, and the national trend of trying juveniles as adults in court.
     They were boys every teenager can identify with and circumstances every parent fears. Their story provides a disturbing, sad, and compelling inside look at the dynamics of individuals--not yet adults, but no longer children--who commit senseless, impulsive crimes. Trout is that rare book that continues to haunt you long after you've finished reading it.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida (April 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813039819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813039817
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,190,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jeff Kunerth's skill as a reporter is wonderfully evident in this beautifully written and meticulously researched book about a sad, senseless murder committed one long-ago night by three foolish young men -- and the consequences that followed. Narrative nonfiction is always tricky to write well, but Kunerth pulls it off wonderfully with this perfectly paced novel. If this were a newspaper feature, I have no doubt it would be up for a Pulitzer. I couldn't put it down! A relatively short, very meaningful read; highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author took me deep into the lives of the teens who committed a heinous and ridiculous murder in such a way that I cannot get them out of my mind. Kunerth's creative nonfiction gives the reader a taste of each boy's family life, his need to fit into a group--any group, his naive bravado and recklessness and finally his evolution moving into middle age behind bars. We have all known boys like this. Turns out our parents were right when they said not to hang around with the wrong crowd. In Florida, that can get you a life sentence even if you are just an unwitting hanger-on. The teenage brain is on trial on many levels in Trout. The debate about how old you must be to be sentenced as an adult and the way it is handled from state to state and nation to nation comes down to this--it varies. What does not vary is the fact that the human brain takes a long time to form in the areas of impulsivity, reasoning and consequences. Add to that the increase of violent behavior when in groups and you find a powder keg of potential explosives during the high school years. Teens with absent or abusive families and a sense of hopelessness think they have little to lose. This cautionary tale should be read in middle and high schools across the country. And...if we can be a positive influence in a young person's life--let's do it.
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Format: Hardcover
One of the remarkable qualities of Jeff Kunerth's haunting account of the haphazardly brutal murder of a store clerk by teenagers, and its aftermath, is how it lives in the memory and resonates. In the weeks since I finished Trout, it seems the news has been full of stories about other reckless teenagers murdering, or dabbling in darkness and being murdered. All I could think of were the boys of Trout and others like them adrift in dystopia - doomed by the accident of their birth and circumstances. By a dazzling sleight of writerly hand, Kunerth has elucidated the complex issue of juvenile sentencing while at the same time telling a suspenseful, heartbreaking story with vivid characters and sharp sense of place - Crime and Punishment with shades of Clockwork Orange on the Red Neck Riviera.
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Format: Hardcover
This well-researched book left me haunted at how our judicial system hands down sentances, in this case for juveniles, but in general for everyone. I don't think these boys should have in any way have gotten light sentances; however, I have problems with charging everyone who was there, including one who drove the car but was not even in the store - with first degree ADULT murder, especially when he was told it was to be a robery.

Three boys who were becoming deliquents for various reasons began hanging out in a trailer of an older man, who encouraged them to drink, use drugs, and almost anything else they wanted to do. After promising one he would provide a large sum of money if he would kill someone, two of the boys asked a third,(who apparently didn't realize this was a planned murder, but thought they were going to rob the place), to drive them to the auto parts store and sit outside in the car.

A family man was brutally murdered, and there begins the question as to how do you handle teenagers, encouraged by an older "mentor," in the court system?
When a child feels no one accept them except this sorry man who has ordered the murder, should they be held responsible as adults?

I felt Kunnerth did a wonderful job of telling the details of the trials, and exploring how we should handle teens as criminals. However, I also feel he left it open for the reader to develop their own feelings on the matter, and would be a wonderful book to discuss in a book club setting.

Children who are extremely hyperactive, as one boy was, are extremely hard to manage, and generally are very immature and have short fuzes.
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Format: Hardcover
Well, this book certainly does give readers something to think about regarding our criminal justice system and the treatment of juveniles within it. Unfortunately, it doesn't do so in a straightforward, unbiased manner. Yes, I feel sympathy for children who grow up in horrible conditions. Yes, I like to hope that redemption is possible. However, I felt this book went a bit too far in its portrayal of the teen-aged perpetrators. Sure, their lives were less than ideal growing up, but that doesn't change the fact that they ended a man's life, changing the lives of his wife and children forever in addition to their own. Surely their victim and his family deserves more sympathy than they do? While I do agree that those not considered adults yet in the matters of voting, military service, taxes, etc. shouldn't be treated as adults by our justice system, neither should their crimes be made less of because of their age. The author says that he agrees with this statement, but I don't feel as if his writing backs it up.

I absolutely agree with him that teen-aged brains, as "parents and teachers have known forever" (and as the author states over and over--and over) don't work on the same levels as adult brains. As such, they often can't think things through to their inevitable consequences--however, there are still consequences, whether they've anticipated them or not. I agree with the author's premise that children do not belong on death row. Only people with the mental capacity to fully understand the finality of what they've done should receive that punishment, if indeed anyone should. That part of his argument I did not dispute.

It's hard to ignore, however, the fact that the author was clearly on the side of the juvenile offenders as he researched and wrote this book.
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