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What is the fascination of murder trials? I like to think it isn’t just ghoulishness, or there-but-for-the-grace-of-God. A big trial, reported in loving detail, tells you how someone died. But more revealingly it tells you how they lived. You find out what they did at 9 and 10 and 11 o’clock that night (and perhaps every night) up to the point when, on that particular date, they were killed.

Similarly with the killer. You learn exactly what his or her life consisted of, apart from the moment of picking up the axe, the gun or the carving knife. Nowhere else…

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