December 11, 2007
All charges have been dropped against Jonathan Hoffman, who was sentenced to die in 1996 for the murder of a jewelry store owner in Union County. Read the press release here. No physical evidence linked Hoffman to the crime. Prosecutors sent him to death row by deceiving the judge, the jury, and the defense about the true motives of the witnesses against Hoffman.
The decision came a week after a judge ruled that testimony given at Hoffman’s first trial by a witness who has since died could not be used against Hoffman at his retrial. The prosecution hid evidence that the witness, the only person linking Hoffman to the murder weapon, was seeking reward money in exchange for his testimony. Hoffman was granted a new trial in 2004 because prosecutors failed to reveal that another witness had been rewarded for his testimony with immunity from state and federal prosecution, thousands of dollars, and a reduction in his federal prison sentence.
Kenneth Honeycutt and Scott Brewer were the original prosecutors in the case. Attorneys Joseph Cheshire and David Rudolph, now representing Mr. Hoffman, credit current district attorney John Snyder for having the courage to do the right thing.
You can read prior reporting about the Hoffman case here and here. More detail on the case is available in this 2003 article on prosecutorial misconduct from Joseph Neff at the News & Observer.
November 12, 2007
News Update 11.12.07
Jonathan Gregory Hoffman was convicted and sentenced to death in Union County in 1996, based in part upon the testimony of a root doctor who claimed he sold Hoffman a magical charm that would keep him from getting arrested. (For those not from the Deep South, a root doctor or rootworker is a sort of folk healer/magician.) Hoffman was given a new trial in 2004 because prosecutors Kenneth Honeycutt and Scott Brewer failed to reveal that rewards were given to their star witness in exchange for his testimony. That witness has since recanted his testimony, so in retrying Hoffman, prosecutors want to use the old statements of the now-deceased root doctor. Trouble is, prosecutors didn’t turn over evidence that he, too, was seeking a reward.
Editorials on Glen Edward Chapman’s removal from death row here and here.
- Parade, a Tony award-winning musical about a man facing the death penalty in the early 1900s, will be performed tonight and tomorrow night at UNC-CH’s Memorial Hall at 7:30 PM.
- St. Francis of Assisi Church in Raleigh is hosting a panel discussion entitled Doctors in the Death Chamber on December 12 at 7:00 PM. The panel will include defense attorneys, prosecutors, medical ethicists, elected officials, and more.
Florida‘s Mark Dean Schwab has filed his application for cert with the US Supreme Court. Schwab notes that Florida’s three-drug cocktail is identical to the one at issue in Baze, and that his objections to lethal injection have been brought before the Court well in advance of his execution date. The application was filed with Justice Clarence Thomas, and will likely be referred to the full court for review.
Last night, 60 Minutes examined the case of Greg Thompson in Tennessee and asked: if it is unconstitutional to execute the insane, is it constitutional to medicate a person to restore their sanity and eligibility for execution? (c/o CDW)