The Racial Justice Act has passed a second reading in the North Carolina House of Representatives. The final vote was 61 to 55.
A bill to exempt the severely mentally ill from the death penalty has passed the Judiciary 1 committee of the North Carolina House. It will continue on to the appropriations committee.
Prior reporting is here.
In Bladen County, jurors have heard opening arguments in the capital murder trial of John Franklin Hester. In addition to first-degree murder, Hester is also charged with assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, and second-degree kidnapping. He could face the death penalty if convicted.
The conviction and death sentence of North Carolina death row inmate Davy Stephens has been upheld by the Fourth Circuit. Apparently they didn’t think there was anything fishy about Stephens’ lawyer not telling him that he also happened to represent the law enforcement agency which investigated the case. The lawyer also neglected to mention that through that representation, he knew that a member of the Sheriff’s Office had destroyed files related to Stephens’ case. Not a conflict of interest at all, no sir.
In Robeson County, the capital trial of Myron Britt is set to begin next week. A pretrial hearing was held yesterday to determine whether jurors would hear evidence that a bullet fired from a gun owned by Britt matched the bullet that killed his wife. One expert asserts that the bullets did come from the same gun, while another says it’s not possible to know for sure.
The Sojourners for Abolition and Reconciliation have completed their 300-mile trek across North Carolina. Congratulations to Scott Bass and everyone else who took to the streets to raise awareness about the death penalty.
The Judiciary I committee of the North Carolina House of Representatives has approved the Racial Justice Act, bringing the state one step closer to addressing the problem of racial bias in the administration of the death penalty. Media reports are here and here.
The Racial Justice Act is expected to be heard by the full House next week. You can follow the bill via the Twitter page of the North Carolina Coalition for a Moratorium.