Cover image for Getting out.
Getting out.
Smith, Edgar, 1934-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Coward, McCann & Geoghegan [1973]
Physical Description:
271 pages ; 22 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
KF221.M8 S5 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order


Author Notes

Edgar H. Smith Jr. was born in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey on February 9, 1934. He broke into a house at the age of 12 and was charged with molesting a 9-year-old girl at the age of 14. Both cases were handled in juvenile court. He dropped out of high school and spent time in the Marine Corps. On March 4, 1957, after being fired from his job at an auto-muffler shop, he killed 15-year-old Victoria Zielinski. He confessed to the crime, but later said his admission was the result of coercion and exhaustion. He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.

While on death row, he took college courses, educated himself in the law, and filed a string of appeals that resulted in numerous stays of execution. His case attracted the attention of William F. Buckley Jr., founder of National Review. In 1965, Buckley wrote an article for Esquire magazine, citing what he thought were damning weaknesses in the prosecution's case against Smith. He promoted a defense fund for Smith. Smith's book, Brief Against Death, was published in 1968. Also in 1968, the United States Supreme Court ordered the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to reconsider its decision to deny Smith a hearing on the validity of his confession. On May 14, 1971, a Third Circuit judge ruled after a hearing that the confession had indeed been coerced, and that the prisoner must be freed if prosecutors did not retry him. On December 6, 1971, Smith was allowed to plead no contest to a reduced charge of second-degree murder and was sentenced to the time he had already served. He immediately appeared on Buckley's Firing Line program.

Smith moved to California. On October 1, 1976, he abducted a 33-year-old San Diego woman and stabbed her as she struggled to escape his car. He eventually turned himself in and had been in prison since then. He wrote two more books entitled Getting Out and A Reasonable Doubt, a novel based loosely on his own case. He died on March 20, 2017 at the age of 83.

(Bowker Author Biography)