McCracken Poston Jr. in conversation with Bill Torpy - Zenith Man

McCracken Poston Jr. in conversation with Bill Torpy - Zenith Man

Tuesday, Feb 20, 2024 7:00 PM

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library
441 John Lewis Freedom Parkway, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30307

Like a nonfiction John Grisham thriller with echoes of "Rainman," "Just Mercy," and a captivating smalltown Southern setting, this is the fascinating true story—sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking—of an idealistic young lawyer determined to free an innocent neurodivergent man accused of murdering the wife no one knew he had.

The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and A Cappella Books welcome criminal defense attorney and former state legislator in the Georgia House of Representatives, McCracken Poston Jr., to discuss his new book, "Zenith Man: Death, Love, and Redemption in a Georgia Courtroom." The author will appear in conversation with AJC reporter Bill Torpy.

This event is free and open to the public. Copies of the book will be available for purchase at the venue. Masks are optional.

If you are unable to attend, you may preorder a signed copy of "Zenith Man" below:

About the Book

Was this smalltown TV repair man "a harmless eccentric or a bizarre killer" (Atlanta Journal-Constitution). For the first time, Alvin Ridley's own defense attorney reveals the inside story of his case and trial in an extraordinary tale of friendship and an idealistic young attorney's quest to clear his client's name—and, in the process, rebuild his own life.

In October 1997, the town of Ringgold in northwest Georgia was shaken by reports of a murder in its midst. A dead woman was found in Alvin Ridley's house—and even more shockingly, she was the wife no one knew he had.

McCracken Poston had been a state representative before he lost his bid for U.S. Congress and returned to his law career. Alvin Ridley was a local character who once sold and serviced Zenith televisions. Though reclusive and an outsider, the "Zenith Man," as Poston knew him, hardly seemed capable of murder.

Alvin was a difficult client, storing evidence in a cockroach-infested suitcase, unwilling to reveal key facts to his defender. Gradually, Poston pieced together the full story behind Virginia and Alvin's curious marriage and her cause of death—which was completely overlooked by law enforcement. Calling on medical experts, testimony from Alvin himself, and a wealth of surprising evidence gleaned from Alvin's junk-strewn house, Poston presented a groundbreaking defense that allowed Alvin to return to his peculiar lifestyle, a free man.

Years after his trial, Alvin was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, a revelation that sheds light on much of his lifelong personal battle—and shows how easily those who don't fit societal norms can be castigated and misunderstood. Part true crime, part courtroom drama, and full of local color, "Zenith Man" is also the moving story of an unexpected friendship between two very different men that changed—and perhaps saved—the lives of both.

About the Author

McCracken King Poston Jr., is a criminal defense attorney and former state legislator in the Georgia House of Representatives. He gained national attention for his handling of several notable cases that were featured on "CNN Presents," "Dateline NBC," A&E's "American Justice" and "Forensic Files." He lives in Ringgold, Georgia. Visit him at or @RealZenithMan.

About the Conversation Partner

Bill Torpy, who writes about metro Atlanta for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, joined the newspaper in 1990. He writes the metro column and has covered politics, government and countless stories about police, courts, the justice system and humanity in general. The Chicago native graduated from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill., and previously worked for the Daily Southtown in Chicago.