Sherrill Murder Trial Ongoing in Charlotte

January 26, 2009

Though it has been little reported, a capital murder trial is ongoing in Charlotte.  Michael Wayne Sherrill is accused of the February 1984 murder of Cynthia Dotson and could face the death penalty if convicted.  Dotson was found stabbed to death in a burning mobile home nearly 25 years ago.  Sherrill was not charged until 2005.

Sherrill is also accused of three other murders, but those are not an issue in this trial.  Arthur Jackson Bostic, Linda Taylor, and Amy Bostic were killed in October of 1984.

DW has been unable to determine why Sherrill was charged with these murders, except that he knew the victims and police received undefined tips about his involvement.


Life for Bobby Lynn Chavis

January 26, 2009

In Moore County, Bobby Chavis has pleaded guilty and accepted a sentece of life without the possibility of parole for the 2006 murder of his wife.  Audrey Chavis was attacked with a baseball bat as she slept, and then suffocated with a pillow.

The district attorney had sought death in the case, and only agreed to the plea after seven days of jury selection.  The victim’s family did not want the death penalty.


Federal Government Seeks Death Against Atwater

January 16, 2009

In one of the last acts of the Bush Administration, federal prosecutors have announced that they will seek the death penalty against Demario James Atwater.  Atwater is accused of killing UNC student body president Eve Carson.


Calls to End the Death Penalty

January 16, 2009

Two recent op-eds in NC newspapers have called for an end to capital punishment.  The first, in Greensboro’s News-Record, calls on elected officials to get in line with what juries are telling them – that life without parole is a more just punishment than death in all but the most exceptional cases.

The second piece, in Raleigh’s News and Observer, takes a historical look at capital punishment in North Carolina, concluding, “For decades, North Carolinians have tried to adapt the penalty to satisfy our desire for a forceful and effective response to crime that will not hurt our consciences.  We have failed.  We can rewrite this failure in blood, or we can give the death penalty, in the words of the late Raleigh minister W.W. Finlator, ‘a prompt and decent burial.'”


Proposal to Exempt Severely Mentally Ill from Execution

January 14, 2009

In Raleigh, lawmakers are considering a bill that would exempt the severely mentally ill from the death penalty.  Recent United States Supreme Court decisions have exempted juveniles and the mentally retarded from execution because of their reduced ability to control their actions, assist in their defense, and appreciate why they are being executed.  The proposed bill would extend the same protection to persons with debilitating mental illnesses because they have similar disabilities.

The bill allows for a pretrial determination of the defendant’s mental status.  If he or she was found to be severely mentally ill, the death penalty would be taken off the table and the defendant would proceed to trial.  Upon conviction, he or she would be sentenced to life in prison (not a psychiatric facility) without the possibility of parole.   Advocates say that by culling the severely mentally ill from the pool of capital-eligible defendants in advance of trial, the State would save both time and money.

The bill would only protect persons with debilitating mental illnesses like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.  The defendant would be required to show that he or she was suffering from severe mental illness or brain damage at the time of the crime.  Persons with conditions like anxiety disorders or substance abuse problems would still be eligible for the death penalty.

A similar bill was proposed last year, and is available online here.


June Trial for Myron Britt

January 13, 2009

A June 1st trial date has been set for Myron Britt in Robeson County.  Britt was previously tried for the murder of his wife in 2006, but the jury could not reach a verdict.  The State alleged that Britt killed his wife to collect her insurance policy, but Britt’s attorneys maintained that the couple was happy and he had no reason to kill her.  If convicted, Britt could be sentenced to death.


Study: DAs Drive Up NC Death Penalty Costs

January 12, 2009

Indigent Defense Services, which oversees legal representation for all indigent defendants in North Carolina, has released a study about the cost of the death penalty at the trial level.  The study is available online here.

The primary revelation of the study is that the cost of the death penalty has been exploded by DA charging decisions.

A person accused of intentional homicide can be charged with first degree murder, second degree murder or voluntary manslaughter, depending on the circumstances of the killing.  As many as 88% of intentional homicides are charged as either first degree or undesignated murder.  These cases cost, on average, $27,834 in defense spending.  [The State does not release data on the cost of prosecuting such cases.]  However, 83% of these cases are resolved with pleas or verdicts of second degree murder or less.  Had they been charged as second degree murder from the beginning, each case would have cost approximately $1,931.  When you consider that there are on average 869 intentional homicides in North Carolina every year, better charging decisions could save just shy of $20 million annually.

Another way DAs drive up costs is by proceeding capitally in roughly a third of all first degree murder cases.  The death penalty is supposed to be reserved for the rare, egregious case.  By seeking death in a first degree murder case, DAs magnify defense costs – tripling costs in cases that end in a plea, quintupling costs in cases that go to trial.  Between 2002 and 2005, DAs sought death at some point in 464 cases.  Had all of those cases proceeded non-capitally, the state of North Carolina would have saved over $21 million.

Remember that since 2001, the State has only obtained a death sentence in 3% of cases where it has been sought.  More than 60% of cases in which the State initially sought the death penalty resulted in a conviction of second degree murder or less.

A few other findings:

  • The average cost of a potentially capital case has not risen in the last several years.  However, the number of open cases has grown significantly, increasing costs overall.
  • While the media tends to focus on expensive, high-profile cases, half of potentially capital cases are resolved for less than $15,000 in defense expenditures (attorney and expert costs combined).

The study does not propose that the death penalty be abolished to save money.  It simply suggests that IDS and district attorneys can work together to reduce the waste produced by reckless charging decisions.  In these tough economic times, that’s not politics, that’s just good sense.


Hennis Court-Martial to Begin July 7

January 6, 2009

In a hearing at Fort Bragg this morning, the attorneys prosecuting and defending Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis argued over access to documents and information.  The military is seeking two pages created by Hennis’ attorney in his previous civlian trials, while the defense is seeking contact information for the witnesses the State called in those trials.  Hennis was once convicted and later acquitted in civilian court of the murders for which the Army is now seeking the death penalty.

Another hearing is scheduled for March 31.  The court-martial will convene on July 7.


Tim Hennis Hearing Tomorrow

January 5, 2009

Tomorrow morning a military court at Fort Bragg will hear pretrial motions in the ongoing case of Master Sgt. Timothy Hennis.

In 1986, Hennis was sentenced to death in state court for a triple murder that occurred near Fort Bragg the year before.  In 1989, Hennis was acquitted at a retrial.  Tim Hennis returned to the Army, and served until his retirement in 2004.  New evidence emerged in 2006, and the Army reactivated Hennis for the purpose of charging him with the murders in military court.  Double jeopardy does not apply to the military.  Hennis could again be sentenced to death if he is convicted by a military jury.

Past articles about Hennis are here and here.


Persons on North Carolina’s Death Row 2009

January 2, 2009

DOC #

Last Name

First Name

County

1

0234897

Laws

Wayne A.

Davidson

2

0207779

Jennings

Patricia W.

Wilson

3

0288088

Moore

Blanche T.

Forsyth

4

0265106

McCollum

Henry L.

Cumberland

5

0351933

Rose

Clinton R.

Rockingham

6

0100579

Davis

Edward E.

Buncombe

7

0353186

Rouse

Kenneth B.

Randolph

8

0339314

Reeves

Michael M.

Craven

9

0347839

Robinson

Eddie C.

Bladen

10

0264009

McCarver

Ernest P.

Cabarrus

11

0294214

Moseley

Carl

Forsyth

12

0039561

Bowie

Nathan

Catawba

13

0039569

Bowie

William

Catawba

14

0057308

Burkes

Rayford L.

Iredell

15

0058316

Burr

John

Alamance

16

0104984

Decastro

Eugene

Johnston

17

0156518

Gregory

Warren

Pitt

18

0251740

Lynch

David

Gaston

19

0021418

Barrett

Jeffrey

Northampton

20

0030124

Best

Norfolk

Columbus

21

0063592

Campbell

James

Rowan

22

0141374

Garner

Daniel

Robeson

23

0099090

Daughtry

Johnny R.

Johnston

24

0054499

Buckner

George C.

Gaston

25

0441726

Williams

James E.

Randolph

26

0149506

Goode

George E.

Harnett

27

0343075

Richardson

Martin A.

Union

28

0012311

Atkins

Randy L.

Buncombe

29

0153856

Gray

William

Lenoir

30

0017060

Ball

Terry L.

Beaufort

31

0071799

Chambers

Frank J.

Rowan

32

0020590

Barnes

William L.

Rowan

33

0221506

Kandies

Jeffrey

Randolph

34

0453231

Wooten

Vincent M.

Pitt

35

0120038

Elliott

John R.

Davidson

36

0082151

Cole

Wade L.

Camden

37

0348505

Robinson

Marcus

Cumberland

38

0166056

Harden

Alden

Mecklenburg

39

0438643

Wilkinson

Phillip

Cumberland

40

0143501

Geddie

Malcolm

Johnston

41

0095279

Cummings

Daniel

Brunswick

42

0443375

Williams

Marvin E.

Wayne

43

0085045

Connor

Jerry W.

Gates

44

0478925

Stroud

Isaac J.

Durham

45

0404386

Thomas

James E.

Wake

46

0368820

Sidden

Tony M.

Alexander

47

0036850

Bond

Charles P.

Bertie

48

0233526

Larry

Thomas M.

Forsyth

49

0497100

Woods

Darrell C.

Forsyth

50

0492102

Richardson

Timothy

Nash

51

0061528

Cagle

Richard

Cumberland

52

0180479

Herring

William

Wake

53

0487180

Warren

Leslie

Buncombe

54

0393145

Strickland

Darrell

Union

55

0511057

Hill

Jerry Dale

Harnett

56

0511998

East

Keith B.

Surry

57

0275678

McNeil

John D.

Cumberland

58

0414853

Tyler

Stacey A.

Hertford

59

0388922

Stephens

Davy G.

Johnston

60

0413011

Tucker

Russell

Forsyth

61

0495163

Neal

Kenneth

Rockingham

62

0528622

McNeill

Elmer R.

Wake

63

0499258

Murillo

Eric F.

Richmond

64

0238344

LeGrande

Guy T.

Stanly

65

0376917

Smith

Jamie L.

Buncombe

66

0246186

Locklear

Robbie D.

Robeson

67

0471315

Billings

Archie L.

Caswell

68

0506556

Guevara

Angel

Johnston

69

0440399

Williams

David K.

Bertie

70

0405380

Thomas

Walic C.

Guilford

71

0037215

Bonnett

Shawn D.

Martin

72

0510234

Davis

James F.

Buncombe

73

0434355

White

Melvin L.

Craven

74

0156529

Gregory

William

Davie

75

0412440

Trull

Gary A.

Randolph

76

0320825

Peterson

Lawrence E.

Richmond

77

0422350

Wallace

Henry L.

Mecklenburg

78

0539901

Taylor

Terrence

Lenoir

79

0311966

Parker

Johnny S.

Sampson

80

0571536

Fleming

John H.

Northampton

81

0176701

Hedgepath

Rowland

Halifax

82

0538027

Cheek

Jamey

New Hanover

83

0255136

Mann

Leroy

Wake

84

0585797

Davis

Phillip

Buncombe

85

0352024

Roseboro

Christopher

Gaston

86

0033802

Blakeney

Roger

Union

87

0488288

Mitchell

Marcus

Wake

88

0095361

Cummings

Jerry

Robeson

89

0134151

Fowler

Elrico

Mecklenburg

90

0552017

Moses

Erroll

Forsyth

91

0043529

Braxton

Michael

Halifax

92

0597164

Lawrence

Jimmie

Harnett

93

0599379

Williams

John

Wake

94

0137368

Frogg

Danny

Forsyth

95

0587681

Holman

Allen

Wake

96

0158506

Grooms

Timmy

Scotland

97

0590940

Golphin

Tilmon

Cumberland

98

0542024

Hyde

Johnny

Onslow

99

0388640

Steen

Patrick

Mecklenburg

100

0584095

Brewington

Robert

Harnett

101

0472274

Taylor

Rodney

New Hanover

102

0226428

King

James

Guilford

103

0280127

Meyer

Jeffery

Cumberland

104

0330166

Prevatte

Ted

Stanly

105

0515143

Thibodeaux

Raymond

Forsyth

106

0580028

May

Lyle

Buncombe

107

0311386

Parker

Carlette

Wake

108

0125241

Fair

Nathaniel

Wake

109

0542384

Call

Eric

Ashe

110

0654009

Wiley

Keith

New Hanover

111

0654093

Anthony

William

Gaston

112

0206197

Jaynes

James

Polk

113

0291861

Morgan

James

Buncombe

114

0139378

Gainey

David

Harnett

115

0007328

Anderson

Billy

Craven

116

0491889

Barden

Iziah

Sampson

117

0670167

Nicholson

Abner

Wilson

118

0130628

Fletcher

Andre L.

Rutherford

119

0199877

Hyatt

Terry A.

Buncombe

120

0561692

Hooks

Cerron T.

Forsyth

121

0349019

Robinson

Terry L.

Wilson

122

0688223

Squires

Mark L.

Pitt

123

0626944

Walters

Christina

Cumberland

124

0051026

Brown

Paul A.

Wayne

125

0434845

White

Timothy L.

Forsyth

126

0189289

Holmes

Michael D.

Johnston

127

0217326

Jones, Sr.

Marcus D.

Onslow

128

0486636

Carter

Shan E.

New Hanover

129

0702066

Garcia

Fernando L.

Wake

130

0561943

Haselden

Jim E.

Stokes

131

0428143

Watts

James Hollis

Davidson

132

0592464

Bell

Bryan

Onslow

133

0742512

Miller

Clifford Ray

Onslow

134

0379083

Smith

Reche

Washington

135

0064125

Campbell

Terrance

Pender

136

0765397

Smith

Wesley Toby

Rowan

137

0612123

Augustine

Quintel

Brunswick

138

0406487

Thompson

John Henry

Guilford

139

0290634

Moore
(Al-Bayyinah)

Terry
(Jathiyah)

Davie

140

0507467

McNeill

Jimmy

Scotland

141

0113234

Duke

Jeffrey Neal

Gaston

142

0133102

Forte

Linwood Earl

Wayne

143

0005091

Allen

Scott D.

Montgomery

144

0120236

Elliott

Terrance R.

Moore

145

0562597

Berry

Kyle O.

New Hanover

146

0509565

Hurst

Jason Wayne

Randolph

147

0014016

Badgett

John Scott

Randolph

148

0523493

Cummings

Paul Dewayne

New Hanover

149

0801680

Polke

Alexander C.

Randolph

150

0150949

Goss

Christopher

Ashe

151

0245105

Locklear

Dane Jr.

Robeson

152

0667195

Lane

Eric Glenn

Wayne

153

0762634

Taylor

Eddie Larmar

Harnett

154

0526698

Raines

William H.

Henderson

155

0940436

Murrell

Jeremy

Forsyth

156

0831753

Maness

Darrell W.

Brunswick

157

0775602

Garcell

Ryan G.

Rutherford

158

0900281

Wilkerson

George

Randolph

159

0441044

Williams

Eugene

Cumberland

160

1025501

Waring

Byron Lamar

Wake

161

0604251

Phillips

Mario

Moore

162

0846840

Little

James R.

Forsyth

(Adapted from here)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.