Freedom, Year One

April 2, 2009

One year ago today, Glen Edward Chapman walked off of North Carolina’s death row.  Chapman had spent the last fifteen years behind bars for two murders he did not commit.

Chapman had last been a free man in 1992.  The first George Bush was president.  Cell phones and the internet were not in common use.  Edward Chapman was entering a world he could hardly recognize, with nothing to show for the last 15 years and few possessions besides the clothes on his back.  It seemed like a recipe for failure.

Today, Edward Chapman lives and works in Asheville, North Carolina.  He has a full-time job at a prestigious local hotel, and rents a home where he lives alone.  Chapman no longer struggles with the addictions that plagued him before his incarceration, and he is not bitter about the years he has lost.  “I can forgive.  Does it mean I have to forget?  No, but I can use that as a lesson to teach someone else,” he said.

You can read past articles about Chapman here, here, and here.


NC Death Penalty Year in Review 2008

December 18, 2008

It has been an exceptional year for life in North Carolina.  No one was executed, and only one new person was added to death row (the lowest number since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1977).  This year, as many capital defendants were acquitted as were sentenced to death.  More death row inmates were exonerated than executed.  North Carolina should be proud.

Nationally, executions began again following the Supreme Court’s decision in Baze v. Rees, but lethal injection remains stalled in North Carolina due to litigation by inmates subject to the procedure as well as the doctors forced to participate in it.

Capital Trial Statistics

Life without parole – 9 (Kenneth Hartley, Charles Dickerson, Eric Oakes, Jakiem Wilson, James Stitt, Robert Windsor, Lisa Greene, Neil Sargeant, James Blue)

Sentences less than life -3 (Pliney Purser, Jonte McLaurin, John Chavis Ross)

Death -1 (James Ray Little)

Military capital trial acquittals – 1 (Alberto Martinez)

Post-Conviction Statistics

Executions – 0

Exonerations – 2 (Levon “Bo” Jones, Glen Edward Chapman)

Death row inmates getting new trials – 2 (John Conaway, William Moore)

Death row inmates getting new sentencing hearings – 1 (William Gray)

Otherwise removed from death row – 2 (Clinton Smith, Carlos Cannady)

Incompetent for execution – 1 (Guy LeGrande)

Deaths from natural causes – 3 (Gary Greene, Leroy McNeill, George Page)

If you would like to be part of making 2009 another Year of Life, please consider making a donation to NC-based groups like the Fair Trial Initiative.


Edward Chapman – Life After Death Row

August 14, 2008

News Update 08.14.08

North Carolina

A truly stunning profile of North Carolina death row exoneree Glen Edward Chapman appears in this month’s Details magazine. Chapman spent nearly 14 years on death row for two murders he did not commit (one of which was not even a murder). He was released with less than $200 to his name, no apology, and nowhere to go. Four months later, Chapman has a job, a house, and an inspiring perspective on the time he served and the road ahead.

The article begins:

The sergeant says, “Pack up.”

Glen Edward Chapman has no idea what’s going on. It’s a sunny afternoon in April, and he has just come in from playing basketball with some of the other inmates at the maximum-security state penitentiary in Raleigh, North Carolina. He’s still drying off from his five-minute shower—if you let the water run too long, they extract 10 bucks from your prison account—and he’s confused. He knows that a judge has ordered a new trial, but nobody’s said anything about when it will be.

Pack up?

“I’ve been packed up for a long time,” Chapman says to the sergeant. As one of his small gestures of mental independence, he’s never gotten around to arranging his personal items in a neat space under the bed—that would suggest he plans on sticking around. Instead, he’s kept everything in a bag for close to 14 years while he’s gradually morphed from a wiry and wide-eyed 26-year-old into a stocky, bespectacled 40-year-old. A guard leads him out of Unit III. Chapman expects the two of them to turn right, toward Safekeeping, where prisoners are housed when they’re awaiting trial, but they turn left, toward Shipping. The guard is as nonchalant as a shopkeeper telling a late-night customer that it’s closing time. “See you later,” he says. “You’re going home.”

(As a side note, DW encourages folks to pick up a paper copy of the mag; there are incredible photographs of Mr. Chapman which do not appear in the online version.)

Reactions to the State’s decision to seek death for Demario Atwater are here and here. From the Charlotte Observer article: “If my loved one were murdered, my gut would tell me to find the person responsible and exact some old-fashioned, Biblical vengeance, “an eye for an eye.” Then, I would hope and pray that some other emotion took over, one that rejects legal as well as illegal violence in a world that has always had more than its share of both.”

Elsewhere

Amnesty International and StandDown reflect on the predicament of Raymond Riles, a Texas inmate who has languished on death row for 33 years because even Texas agrees he’s too mentally ill to execute. Still, Texas will not allow Mr. Riles to be moved from death row, the restrictive conditions of which only exacerbate his paranoia and delusions, to a psychiatric prison facility.

From the company we keep department, Iran is taking steps towards ending the practice of stoning condemned prisoners. Relatedly, SLAP links to this article, which notes the decline of the death penalty in Asia, even in China, which executes more people than any nation on Earth.


Jury Deliberates Guilt in Stitt Case

May 7, 2008

News Update 05.07.09

North Carolina

In Cumberland County, a jury will soon deliberate whether James Christopher Stitt is guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the 2005 deaths of his housemates. If found guilty, Stitt will face the death penalty.

Today’s New York Times has “As Executions Resume, So Do Questions About Fairness,” which examines the three exonerations North Carolina has seen in the last six months – Jonathon Hoffman, Edward Chapman, and Bo Jones. A recommended read.

Elsewhere

William Earl Lynd was executed by lethal injection last night in Georgia. Lynd’s execution, which lasted 17 minutes, was the 1100th in the modern era. SCOTUSBlog has the end-phase filings in the case. Lynd is the first person executed since Texas killed Michael Richard on September 25, 2007.

DC sniper John Allen Muhammad has asked prosecutors to help him drop his appeals “so that you can murder this innocent black man.” Which bodes well for his competence to make such a decision.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered that death row inmate Paul House be released or retried within 180 days. The local prosecutor has said that he will retry House, despite evidence that Carolyn Muncie was in fact killed by her husband. Learn more about House’s case here. The District Court ruling is here, and the Sixth Circuit ruling is here.


Fund for Glen Edward Chapman

April 23, 2008

As regular readers will know, Glen Edward Chapman was released from North Carolina’s death row recently after having served over a decade in prison for two murders he did not commit. People of Faith Against the Death Penalty have set up a fund to help Edward adjust to life in the free world. He was released from prison with little more than the clothes on his back and some pocket change, and needs help with basic things like renting an apartment. 100% of donations will go to help Mr. Chapman, and they are tax-deductible.

Send a check or money order to:

People of Faith Against the Death Penalty
110 W. Main St., Ste. 2G
Carrboro, NC 27510

Be sure to note “For Edward Chapman” on your donation.

(While it is possible that Mr. Chapman might receive compensation from the State for his wrongful conviction, he would first have to receive a full pardon from the Governor. Such pardons are extremely rare, particularly in cases like Mr. Chapman’s that do not involve DNA.)


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