Motion Picture Corporation of America CEO Brad Krevoy just bought the rights to a 2004 Hunter S. Thompson Vanity Fair article (co-written by Mark Seal), “Prisoner of Denver.” The piece (which used to be online, but so far as I can tell, isn’t anymore — if you have a library card, I believe you can read it here) was about Lisl Auman, who was 21 when she was charged with murder and sentenced to life without possibility in parole, even though all she did was be in the same car as the guy who pulled the trigger (Thompson mentions the case in his ESPN column here as well as in Kingdom of Fear). Here’s some background on the case from Talk Left:
Lisl Auman was originally sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of Denver police officer Bruce Vanderjagt. Officer Vanderjagt was killed by skinhead Matthaus Jahenig following a police chase and traffic stop. Lisl was a passenger in Jahenig’s car. Earlier that day, he had helped her break into her ex-roomate’s apartment to retrieve her belongings. Lisl was in the back of the patrol car when Jahenig unexpectedly shot the officer. He then killed himself. Lisl served 8 years of her life sentence in the Colorado State Penitentiary before the conviction was overturned [after Hunter’s death] by the Colorado Supreme Court for improper jury instructions on the burglary charge, which required the felony murder conviction also to be overturned.
Here’s Thompson’s account from Kingdom of Fear:
* * * *
Auman was handcuffed in the back of a police car when a man she had known less than a day shot Denver police office Bruce Vanderjagt dead in 1997, but she was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
Auman exemplified a long-standing principle of American law: you don’t have to pull the trigger, hijack the plane, be nearby, or even intend to kill someone to face the toughest penalties.
“The theory is that even though you’re not a hands-on operative, you’re still as culpable as the perpectrator,” said Denver defense attorney Phil Cherner, president of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar.
A Denver jury convicted Auman of “felony murder” — a murder committed during another serious crime or the immediate flight afterward — on the legal theory that she was responsible for Vanderjagt’s death because she earlier had arranged a burglary.
Auman enlisted Jaehnig’s help in burglarizing her ex-boyfriend’s apartment in Pine. When the police showed up, the two fled by car. The police chased them to Denver, where they took Auman into custody. But Jaehnig escaped on foot and shot Vanderjagt while Auman sat handcuffed in a police cruiser.
As for what the film might be, Hollywood Reporter says…
Krevoy will be producing along with MPCA’s Mike Callaghan and Reuben Liber, and Seal. They are looking for writers to adapt the material, with a focus on Thompson and Seal acting as a couple of gonzo Woodward and Bernsteins.
The acquisition of “Prisoner” comes from the MPCA Film Fund, which is backrolling the company’s “Deathgames,” starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kellan Lutz and Daniel Dae Kim.
I think I saw a porno about a couple of gonzo Woodward and Bernsteins. Woodman and Bonestein, I believe it was called. Anyway, I love the good doctor, but you wonder if any of these people would’ve had the balls to option it while Hunter was still alive to write them angry letters and draw swastikas on their contracts. I get the feeling he might not have wanted to be portrayed as a Gonzo Woodward, and it doesn’t make me feel any better that it’s coming from the same company who’s also bankrolling a condemned-prisoners-fight-to-the-death movie.
The good thing is that this story is more about the story than the way Hunter Thompson covered it, which gives me the tiniest hope that Hollywood won’t be able to do with it what they did with Michael Lewis’ The Blind Side. Because no one wants that. Except for maybe Pete Hammond, but he’s practically retarded.