January 29, 2010
In Forsyth County, a judge has ordered an evidentiary hearing to determine whether prosecutors offered immunity to a witness in exchange for testimony that put another man on death row – without revealing the deal to defense attorneys or the jury.
Errol Moses has been on death row since 1997, but has maintained that he is innocent of the drug-related killings of Ricky Griffin and Jacinto Dunkley. The testimony of Casey McCree was the only evidence directly linking Moses to the shootings of Griffin and Dunkley.
The jury that convicted Mr. Moses and sentenced him to death was never told that prosecutors had an agreement with Mr. McCree that, in exchange for his testimony, he would not be charged with any crime related to his involvement in the killings.
The prosecutor involved in the case says that this sort of unofficial immunity-for-testimony exchange was “common practice” at the time of Moses’ trial.
A hearing date has not been set.
January 29, 2010
Prosecutors in Onslow County have announced that they will not seek the death penalty against Sirree Scales, who allegedly shot a 17-year-old to death in April of 2008. Prosecutors have also elected not to seek death against Jarrell Wilson, a Marine who allegedly killed two people in July.
Meanwhile, prosecutors are holding off on whether to seek death for Soyer Moll, who is accused of killing his wife during a domestic dispute.
January 21, 2010
The trial of Demeatrius Montgomery, who stands accused of killing two Charlotte-Mecklenburg County police officers, is scheduled to begin on July 12th. Defense counsel asserts that Montgomery is incompetent to stand trial, while the prosecution insists that Montgomery is not a paranoid schizophrenic because he can use a telephone.
January 21, 2010
The military death penalty trial of Master Sergeant Timothy Hennis has been put off until sometime after March so that additional DNA testing can be completed.
Hennis has already been tried twice for the 1985 murders of Kathryn Eastburn and her children. Although initially convicted and sentenced to death, Hennis was found not guilty at the second trial. Hennis returned to the Army and retired in 2004, but was called back to duty to face the murder charges a third time in military court, where double jeopardy protections do not apply.
More details are here.
January 20, 2010
Granville County prosecutors have announced their intention to seek the death penalty against Scott Morris. His wife Kelly’s body was found in a wooded area last November. On January 27, there will be a hearing at which prosecutors will summarize the evidence against Morris and their basis for seeking capital punishment.
January 8, 2010
From Slate, with assistance from DPIC‘s Richard Dieter, a semi-answer to the burning question: If a Siamese twin commits murder, does his brother get punished too?
[Bonus question: What happens to brother B if brother A is sentenced to death?]
January 7, 2010
Cumberland County (which includes Fayetteville and Fort Bragg) seems to have quite a few murder cases in the news.
Prosecutors have elected not to seek the death penalty against Sgt. Edgar Patino, a soldier accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend and leaving her body in a hotel bathtub. Prosecutors are seeking death against at least two other soldiers accused of murdering their spouses, John Wimunc and Richard Smith.
The State will be seeking death against Sean Patrick McDuffy for two murders it claims he committed 25 years ago. It is unknown what new evidence the police have gathered against McDuffy. When he was arrested for the crime in the 1980s, McDuffy was quickly released after a judge found that the State did not have probable cause (that is, a good reason to think he’d done it).
Prosecutors have decided not to seek death against two out of three defendants in a home invasion robbery. Death will not be sought for Jivon Darden and Lonnie Joe Grant, but it is still on the table for Hakeem McKoy.
Counsel for Tim Hennis continue to assert that the military should not be allowed to try him in military court for a murder of which he was acquitted in civilian court. A recent filing questions whether the Army has jurisdiction to try a soldier after he is discharged from the military for crimes committed prior to that discharge.
In nearby Moore County, lawyers for Michael Graham Currie sought a continuance because one of their witnesses is sick and the State still hasn’t turned over all of its evidence. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Currie for a 2007 homicide. Of Currie’s four co-defendants, the State is only seeking death against one.