Fundraiser for Ed Chapman

February 18, 2011

In 2008, Glen Edward Chapman was exonerated and released from death row after spending 15 years behind bars for two murders he did not commit.  He has yet to be compensated by the State of North Carolina.

On March 31st, the Grey Eagle in Asheville is hosting the third annual Freedom Ball in Mr. Chapman’s honor.  Performers will include singer-songwriter David LaMotte, the surf/psychobilly band The Krektones, and reggae/dub act Kinjah.

You can buy tickets online here.  Even if you can’t attend, please consider purchasing a few tickets as a donation.


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.


Jakiem Wilson Sentenced to Life

July 14, 2008

News Update 07.14.08

North Carolina

After deliberating for over a dozen hours about whether to convict him of first-degree murder, it took a Wake County jury less than an hour to decide that life without parole is the most appropriate punishment for Jakiem Wilson. The jury voted unanimously for life after finding none of the aggravating factors required by law to elevate the possible punishment to death.

This week marks the General Assembly’s last chance to pass the Racial Justice Act this session. The bill would allow capital defendants to challenge the prosecutor’s decision to seek death in their case if that decision was based on racial bias. Republicans are attempting to amend the bill to include a provision that would bar the N.C. Medical Board from disciplining doctors who participate in executions.

Elsewhere

The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund as released Death Row U.S.A. 2008, their annual accounting of changes in death penalty law and death row populations. According to the report, the total number of inmates on death row in the United States is 3,309, down from 3,350 the previous year. As the data was compiled several months ago, the report lists several inmates who are no longer on North Carolina’s death row due to exoneration, re-sentencing, or death from natural causes. These include Carlos Canady, Glen Chapman, Levon Jones, and Gary Greene.

In victims’ rights news, a California judge threatened to throw a widow in jail if she told the jury she did not support the death penalty. Carlton Akee Turner was executed in Texas for the murders of his parents, despite pleas from many family members asking that he be spared.

In Oklahoma, the Pardon and Parole Board voted to grant clemency to Kevin Young, who is scheduled to die later this month. The Board’s decision is only advisory; the final say lies with Governor Brad Henry. Learn more about the case and how to take action here.


Racial Justice Act Press Conference

May 23, 2008

(from a press release)

RALEIGH, NC – Senator Vernon Malone, Representative Larry Womble, NAACP-NC President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and other leaders will hold a press conference in support of the NC Racial Justice Act (HB 1291) on Tuesday, May 27 at 1:00pm in the Legislative Press Room of the Legislative Building.

Also in attendance will be recent exonerees Jonathan Hoffman, Glen Edward Chapman, Levon Jones and Darryl Hunt.

The Racial Justice Act, which has passed the House of Representatives, allows a defendant facing the death penalty to challenge his conviction or death sentence if he can show that it was based on inappropriate and unacceptable considerations of race. As in housing and employment discrimination cases, the Racial Justice Act will allow defendants to use statistical proof of racial bias.

In the last six months, three North Carolina death row inmates have been exonerated. All three men are African-American. In all of the cases, at least one of the victims was white. One of them had an all-white jury. A recent landmark study by UNC professors found that a defendant’s odds of receiving the death penalty increase significantly if the victim was white.

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Following the press conference, there will be a screening of Love Lived on Death Row and a panel discussion including the filmmaker and members of Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation.


Stitt Sentenced to Life Without Parole

May 16, 2008

News Update 05.16.08

North Carolina

A Cumberland County jury has voted to spare the life of convicted double-murderer James Stitt. Stitt killed his housemate, a 21-year-old soldier, and the soldier’s 16-year-old girlfriend, at their home in 2005. He then took the victim’s car and other property and drove to Brooklyn, New York, where he sold some items and disposed of the gun before being arrested three days later. Stitt will serve life without the possibility of parole for the murder of the girl, as well as 22 to 27 years for the robbery and murder of the soldier.

In Raleigh, lawmakers, legal scholars, lawyers, journalists, filmmakers, and religious leaders came together to encourage others to take a closer look at capital punishment. Clips from the film “At the Death House Door” (about Texas death row chaplain Carroll Pickett) were shown as Glen Chapman‘s attorney discussed his recent exoneration and Representative Rick Glazier promoted the Racial Justice Act, which is before the General Assembly this session.

Meanwhile in the western part of the state, former Buncombe County sheriff Bobby Lee Medford was found guilty of 11 counts of extortion, money laundering, and illegal gambling. Madison County deputy Randy Edgar Mathis resigned this week after being accused of planting marijuana on a woman to cover up the fact that he had stolen over $300 from her during a search.

Elsewhere

Amnesty International reports on the upcoming execution of Mississippi’s Earl Wesley Berry.

Capital Defense Weekly notes that two other executions are scheduled for this month, Samuel Crowe in Georgia and Kevin Green in Virginia.


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.)


Death Row Families Come Together

April 15, 2008

News Update 04.15.08

North Carolina

Over the weekend, People of Faith Against the Death Penalty held an interfaith service and provided dinner for the friends and family of death row inmates. The event provided a rare opportunity for death row families to come together in an environment free of judgment. “As a pastor, I have worked with families on both sides of this terrible issue,” said keynote speaker Rev. William Barber. “Love and compassion cannot be one-sided, we must offer it to everyone who is in pain and needs support.”

Along with North Carolina death row exoneree Glen Chapman, Maryland exoneree Kirk Bloodsworth spoke this week to a high school class outside of Asheville. Bloodsworth told the boys of the nine years he spent in prison for a child rape/murder he did not commit, and offered advice to Chapman on the difficulties of adjusting to life in the free world. Chapman was released from death row this month with little more than the clothes on his back.

Robert Charles Haulcy, charged in a 2004 murder outside of a Fayetteville Waffle House as well as the 1997 killing of a Ft. Bragg soldier, has entered a plea in both slayings that will spare him the death penalty.

Elsewhere

China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan…the United States? According to a new report from Amnesty International, we round out the top five most-executing nations in the world for 2007, even with the moratorium that has been in place since September. Globally, capital punishment has been abolished by law or in practice in 135 countries.

The US Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow in Kennedy v. Louisiana, the child rape death penalty case. How Appealing provides these links for more information (one, two, three, four), while StandDown Texas offers these (one, two, three).


Judge Removed from Kyle Berry Case

April 11, 2008

News Update 04.11.08

North Carolina

Judge Ronald Spivey has been recused from presiding over the appeal of Kyle Berry, who is on death row for a 1998 New Hanover County murder. Another judge removed Spivey from the case after his hostile courtroom comments to Berry’s counsel were found to indicate prejudice.

The attorneys for Glen Chapman weigh in on how the Attorney General’s office should have handled the case. Had the AG intervened when evidence of Chapman’s innocence first emerged, as it did in the Duke lacrosse case, Chapman would have been saved nearly four years in prison, and the people of North Carolina would have been saved the cost of needless litigation.

Cesar Laurean, suspected in the killing of fellow Marine Maria Lauterbach, has been captured in Mexico. The Onslow County District Attorney has agreed not to seek the death penalty in order to facilitate Laurean’s extradition.

Mark Kleinschmidt asks why Orange-Chatham DA Jim Woodall has recently become so eager to pursue the death penalty.  Woodall’s office has announced its intention to seek death against Barbara Clark and Bobby Lee Person.  There are indications that Woodall will also pursue capital punishment for Demario Atwater, who is accused of killing UNC-Chapel Hill student body president, Eve Carson.  It has been sixty years since someone from Orange or Chatham County was executed.

Elsewhere

Reporting from AI and CDW on this week’s congressional hearings on the poor quality of counsel in capital cases. Among those offering testimony, Bryan Stevenson from Alabama’s Equal Justice Initiative. You can read his comments about the travesties of representation he has witnessed here. From Senator Leahy (D-Vt.):

If we sanction the use of a penalty as final as capital punishment, we must be sure that the system is working properly. The catastrophe of executing an innocent person is not one that we can ever tolerate. Unfortunately, the number of innocent people freed from death row to date illustrates that this is not an idle concern.

The best way to ensure that justice is done is to have exceptional counsel on both sides of these cases. As a prosecutor, I always knew that it was better to have good opposing counsel. With properly trained attorneys and appropriate resources on all sides, we can have much more confidence in our system of justice. Unfortunately, our track record on representation of capital defendants has not been good.

In Ohio, the death sentence of Clifton White III has been commuted to life. The State Supreme Court ruled 7-0 that White, who has an IQ of 52 and functions at the level of a second-grader, is mentally retarded. You can read the Court’s decision here.

In Colorado, some are questioning whether a local prosecutor’s aggressive stance on the death penalty is an attempt to distract attention from her own troubles.


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