Innocent Man did 12+ Yrs in Prison for Brewer Professor’s Murder
Imagine Losing Your Father to Murder at the Age of 17
Dr. Ronald Banks was a father of three, a University of Maine history professor, and a beloved husband when he was killed by a mugger’s bullet during a business trip to New Orleans. I was attending Brewer High School with his daughter, Amy Banks, at the time of the murder and still remember the day the news broke and how horrible we all felt for the family. But I never knew that Dr. Banks was not the only victim of that crime.
There is almost nothing that can make the murder of a relative, particularly a parent worse than the actual killing - but a wrongful conviction does that.
Dr. Amy Banks is a successful psychiatrist and co-author of the book ‘Fighting Time,’ with a family of her own. In 2016, she was inducted into the Brewer High School Athletic Hall of Fame for her contributions in basketball, softball, and field hockey. But throughout all the successes, her father’s murder has always been a constant companion in her life.
Writing the book was deeply cathartic, I talk about being frozen when my father was murdered and that was a real, traumatic physiological place that did not allow me to mourn or grieve the death of my father.
I can't imagine losing my Dad at such a young age, but especially under such horrible circumstances.
Imagine Being Pulled Out of Bed at 16 and Arrested for a Murder You Didn’t Commit
This is what happened to Isaac Knapper of New Orleans and, despite testimony from his family that he was with them on the night of the murder, he was convicted. Knapper spent more than 12 years in Louisiana’s most violent prison, where no one cared that he had been wrongfully convicted. That is until one of his fellow inmates looked into his case and found a shocking police report that revealed other suspects caught with the murder weapon who were never questioned about their possible involvement. When it was brought to the attention of a lawyer, she finally succeeded in getting him exonerated for the murder of Dr. Banks.
His love and talent for boxing saved Isaac from harm while in prison and sustained him, for a time, after his release. But when you’ve been through what he had experienced, life is never going to be easy. At a time when most of us are learning how to be adults, Isaac was learning how to survive in prison.
2 People Affected by One Murder Joined Forces to Write the Book ‘Fighting Time’
It seems so unlikely that these two people would come together. But, in the pursuit of some sort of closure, that's what they did. 'Fighting Time' is a result of that collaboration. The story is an exploration of grief, racism, the American justice system, and family. Chapters alternate between Amy describing how she and her family dealt with their grief and life after the loss of their father and Isaac telling of his own living nightmare.
I'm so impressed with Amy and Isaac for their courage in telling their stories and working together under such extraordinary circumstances.