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Texas Tech Press Wins Award for "Getting Away With Murder"

The infamous and often violent history of the Texas Frontier comes to life in Bill Neal's new book.

TTU Press

Written by Sally Logue Post

Getting Away With Murder book cover

Retired attorney Bill Neal is gaining fame for “Getting Away with Murder.”

His book about notorious killings and celebrated trials on the Northwest Texas and Oklahoma Territory frontier has been named the 2007 Book of the Year by the National Outlaw and Lawman History Association and the Western Writers of America recognized Neal as a finalist in the Western nonfiction historical category in 2007 Spur Award competition. The 308-page illustrated book “Getting Away with Murder” is published by Texas Tech University Press.

Now retired after practicing law for more than 40 years, both as a prosecutor and defense attorney, Neal writes with a lawyer’s insight and a historian’s curiosity about colorful characters and fascinating trials on the Southwestern frontier.

One of the stories follows the violent life of Thomas J. Fulcher, a Spur Ranch hand, who killed a blacksmith on the Matador Ranch in 1887. It seemed the defense had an airtight case. In a variety of twists, the prosecution of Fulcher led not only to two trials, but a surprising verdict. Two Sweetwater lawyers, Felix G. Thurmond and his partner J. E. Yantis, trapped the prosecution and freed their client in a tale worthy of Hitchcock.

“Getting Away with Murder” is Neal’s first book, not counting histories he has written about his native Hardeman County, Texas. But Texas Tech University Press already has in hand another Neal manuscript, “From Guns to Gavels.”

According to Neal, the new manuscript describes the ascendancy of the law on the frontier through a collection of stories of violence, gunfights, lynchings and murder trials. The stories, told in chronological order beginning in the mid-1880s and taking the reader through the aftermath of World War I, are linked by theme and by some of the same central characters who appear in several of the stories.

Neal and his wife, Gayla, live in Abilene.

For more information on the book contact Texas Tech University Press at (806) 742-2982 or visit their Web page.