Justice in the Bones,
their expertise to legal-defense
work has not been a lucrative side-line for Mann and Monge. In most cases,
they barely recover their expenses; on two occasions they didnt
get paid at all by the attorneys who hired them. But if another case with
the merits of Wilburns comes along, Mann says, they will feel compelled
to step forward.
that opportunity presents itself, the anthropologists will continue sifting
through calcified clues in their quest to learn more about our human ancestors,
and as a result, more about ourselves. "To me," says Mann, "its
a story about roots. And I think my interest is just an extension of what
everybody does," he says. "Everybody wants to know where their
grandparents came from, their great grand- parents. Everybody has some
albums they go to and look through all those great yellowing pictures.
I just take that back 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 generations.
wants to know what the ultimate place of their origin is and why, and
what people looked like, and why people looked that way," he adds.
"Were right back to what we were talking about with the differences
between Greg and the person who committed this crime."
result of Mann and Monges fascination with such details and Gilmans
impassioned defense was a victory not just for Wilburn and his family,
but for Gilmans professional colleagues as well. "It was kind
of nice for our officeand for defenders offices everywherethat
we got some positive [publicity] out of it [to help people understand]
that youre not necessarily screwed by the system," Gilman says.
still keeps in touch with Wilburns mom on a monthly basis; they
developed quite a rapport, he says, traveling together on the TV news
circuit. "What happened to [Wilburn] that year, God knows. It will
be with him forever. But hes got a great, supportive mom whos
aggressively on his side. So I think thats going to help. Were
that the cameras are turned off, Gilman is quietly going about the unglamorous
work of a public defender. One of his sons is a senior at Haverford College
who wants to attend graduate school at Penn. The other is 15 and will
probably go "somewhere brilliant and outrageously expensive,"
Gilman says with a sigh. "So Im spending money I dont
have. Its like playing Monopoly. But Im much happier. Its
the right niche for me.
still getting a lot of psychic income from helping individual people,"
he adds. "In one respect [my sixties ideals] are still going strong,
because what does a criminal defense attorney do but fight against the
system? Hes part of the system, but he has to fight using the rules
of the system to help an individual who is being prosecuted by the system.
Thats pretty sixties."
describes Gilmans work more effusively. "I love him. When [Gregs
friends found out] that he had a public defender, theyd say to my
oldest son, Oh man, the public defenders nothing. Theyre
not going to help Greg. But Mr. Gilman
gave me my son. He
gave it everything, as if he was fighting for his own child. For
that Im truly grateful." Jessie never had a chance to meet
Mann or Monge, the people behind the scenes, but she also would like to
thank them for helping her son.
response to the Gilman case, Philadelphias new police commissioner,
John F. Timoney, announced plans last fall to provide more training to
the officers who investigate sex crimes, and to improve evidence-gathering
and examination procedures. But Jessie, who has filed a lawsuit against
the police department, says she and Wilburn are still waiting for an official
apology. "Nothing will ever give my son back the year that he lost."
told his mom that he also wanted an apology from the young woman who accused
him. She reminded him, she says, that "the girl was victimized three
times: She was victimized by the person who assaulted her, she was
victimized by the system, plus theres the thought that the real
person is out there ready to do that again."
planned to speak with high-school counselors this fall to see if her son
has enough credits to enter 12th grade and graduate. Wilburn has mentioned
an interest in going into the military service after high school. "Whatever
he decides to do in life," she says, "if he gives it 100 percent,
hell be fine."
motivate her son, Jessie has compiled a scrapbook full of articles about
his case from start to finish. "When he feels down, or feels disgusted,
I tell him, Take your book, go up to your room. Go through the book,
know where youve been, realize where you are now, and thank God.
Youll forever be able to go through this bookeven when youre
having your worst daybecause I dont think nothing is worse