Interview with McCracken King Poston Jr

McCracken King Poston Jr Zenith Man: Death, Love, and Redemption in a Georgia Courtroom

McCracken King Poston Jr

author of "Zenith Man: Death, Love, and Redemption in a Georgia Courtroom"
Michael Carter

Michael Carter


McCracken King Poston Jr, author of "Zenith Man: Death, Love, and Redemption in a Georgia Courtroom"

McCracken King Poston Jr's Website

McCracken King Poston, Jr. was born and raised in Catoosa County in Northwest Georgia. A four-term member of the Georgia House of Representatives, his world unraveled after a number of personal and professional setbacks, including a losing bid for the U.S. Congress.

Soon, Poston found himself representing a most unusual client – a man once revered as a natural TV repairman who had also suffered several downfalls, including being accused of holding his wife captive in their basement for almost three decades before killing her. Poston went on to complete the representation of Alvin “Zenith Man” Ridley, and the community was shocked to hear the truth of what went on at the dilapidated house in Ringgold, Georgia.

Only recently, Alvin Ridley was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, which explains much about how throughout his life he was misunderstood by his community.

Poston’s first book is a story of redemption, of more than one man in Catoosa County, Georgia.

Poston went on from this case to a distinguished career as a criminal defense lawyer, with cases featured on television’s “Forensic Files,” A&E’s “American Justice,” and several national publications. He and his secretary continue to help Mr. Ridley, now eighty-one, making and getting him to appointments, and helping him navigate a neurotypical world.

The Book: "Zenith Man: Death, Love, and Redemption in a Georgia Courtroom"

ISBN: 0806542799

Get the book

Ringgold attorney pens book on murder case

McCracken Poston’s ‘Zenith Man’ details Alvin Ridley murder case, but also the friendship that blossomed between them after Ridley was acquitted.

“Zenith Man: Death, Love, and Redemption in a Georgia Courtroom” chronicles the story of a young lawyer at a crossroads in life and a middle-aged, quirky man who had just lost the love of his life and stood accused of smothering her to death.

While the basic story has been told many times, the book offers the deeper story, as well as the story of the friendship that blossomed between counsel and client years after the trial.

As attorney and client, Poston and Ridley butted heads, often yelling at each other. “It would be years before I understood why Alvin was so stubborn and difficult,” says Poston.

Ridley sometimes insisted on discussing past civil actions he had brought against people instead of the looming murder trial he faced. His reasoning was that the past cases were legitimate, whereas the current case was not, because he did not kill his wife.

Poston did not want Ridley to take the stand. He worried his client would go off on a rabbit trail or just seem too strange to jurors with his flat voice, his literal interpretation of everything and his transactional approach to communicating with people. At first, Ridley agreed. Then he changed his mind because, he said, Jesus told him to testify.

Ridley’s wife, Virginia, suffered from a severe form of epilepsy. The two met when Ridley was in the Army and they soon married. Virginia became a recluse after her marriage and people rarely saw her.

Ridley became a subject of gossip about town. He ran a Zenith TV sales and repair shop. When the business closed, he often stood in front of his building, guarding it from imagined enemies. He sold socks at a flea market to earn money. And he sued and threatened to sue people over perceived wrongs.

Virginia, at home, supported Ridley’s paranoia by writing to various people, including legislators and even presidents about Ridley’s complaints, among other things. But no one knew about Virginia’s correspondence. Nor did they know she had chosen to stop taking her epilepsy medication — that was found out later from a note she recorded in her Bible.

Rumors circulated that Ridley had killed his wife. When she actually did die, at the age of 49, and the state medical examiner deemed the cause of death homicide by suffocation, Ridley was charged with murder.

In the meantime, Poston was at a tough spot in his life, too. He had been elected in a landslide to the Georgia House of Representatives. After four terms, he decided to run for the U.S. House and lost in a landslide. Some other opportunities fell through and he was thinking about moving away from Ringgold.

Then Poston’s and Ridley’s paths crossed. Poston took on Ridley’s case and spent thousands of dollars before arranging a security interest in the building Ridley once ran his Zenith business from (now Caffeine Addicts).

The story from there was a roller coaster ride that involved the very serious to the comic: from hiring specialists in epilepsy to help establish cause of death, a specialist in handwriting to confirm the authenticity of Virginia’s voluminous writing (letters, notes, everyday occurrences, love notes) to stomping on cockroaches Ridley brought into the courtroom in suitcases full of Virginia’s writing.

Poston says the case was frustrating and sometimes infuriating, but in the end, he knew Ridley was innocent and the jury did, too.

Some years later, Poston had a conversation with Ridley and told him he wouldn’t mind having lunch with him sometime. One lunch turned into lunch every week and contact every day.

Now Poston and his current secretary, Carlene Rodgers, try to help Ridley who is 81 years old. They make sure he gets to doctor appointments and has other things he needs, like a ramp to his front door.

A juror from the long-ago trial, a woman who is a nurse, suggested to Poston that Ridley might be autistic. Two years ago, Poston arranged for Ridley to see a specialist in Atlanta, who confirmed the suspicion.

“It explains so much,” says Poston. “Knowing it has improved our friendship, which continues to be both serious and funny.”

Michael Carter, Co-Host

Michael Carter's Website