March 31, 2011
In Iredell County, a judge declared a mistrial after it was revealed that the State failed to turn over hundreds of pages of evidence in the case of Al Bellamy. The State had been seeking the death penalty, but the judge ordered that if Bellamy is retried, the maximum penalty shall be life without the possibility of parole.
Among the evidence not turned over was a statement by one of the prosecution’s key witnesses indicating that one of the victims in the case was armed. This statement was also not revealed to counsel for Bellamy’s co-defendant, Travis Ramseur, who was convicted and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole last summer.
It must be mentioned that this scandal happened to erupt just as the legislature was considering a bill that would shield prosecutors from sanctions for similar discovery violations. Learn more here and here. The latter link tells the story of Chris Foye, who pleaded guilty to a crime he did not commit in order to avoid the death penalty, only to learn later that the State Bureau of Investigation had concealed DNA evidence that would have exonerated him.
March 25, 2011
There is no word on the Danny Thomas trial in Columbus County.
Testimony is continuing in guilt-or-innocence phase of the James Richardson trial in Pitt County.
In Iredell County, the Al Bellamy trial has been halted after it was learned that prosecutors withheld some 1700 pages of evidence from the defense, turning them over only after the trial had started. The defense has moved for a mistrial to be declared, or in the alternative, for the death penalty to be removed as a possible punishment. In a case where a man’s life is on the line, it’s really not too much to ask for the State to comply with the law. The State has had nearly six years to turn this evidence over. It is unclear whether these materials were ever turned over to the lawyers for Bellamy’s co-defendant, who was tried last year.
March 23, 2011
A Guilford County jury voted yesterday to sentence Tony Savalis Summers to death for the 2006 killing of Lavell Williams. Summers will be the 158th inmate on North Carolina’s death row. He is the only person sentenced to death in North Carolina so far this year. More media here.
March 18, 2011
In Greensboro, a jury is continuing its deliberations on the appropriate sentence for Tony Savalis Summers. Summers has been convicted of first-degree murder, so the only sentencing options available are the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole. DW will update when the sentence is announced.
March 15, 2011
In Statesville, testimony is soon to begin in the capital trial of Al Bellamy. Bellamy is accused of killing two men and injuring a third in 2004. If Bellamy is convicted of first-degree murder, the jury will decide whether to sentence him to death or to life without the possibility of parole.
Bellamy’s cousin and co-defendant Travis Ramseur has already been tried and sentenced to life without parole.
March 14, 2011
The North Carolina Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments this morning in a case involving five death row inmates and the Council of State. This is the next step in ongoing litigation between the five inmates – Jerry Conner, James Campbell, J.T. Thomas, Marcus Robinson, and Archie Billings – and the Council of State, the group charged with approving North Carolina’s lethal injection protocol. Briefs for the parties are here and here. The central question before the Court today is whether the Wake County Superior Court was wrong to find that the inmates cannot challenge the Council’s decision to change the procedure by which they would be executed.
Update: Video of the argument is currently available online here.
March 14, 2011
In Guilford County this morning, a jury is deliberating on the question of whether Tony Savalis Summers is guilty of first-degree murder and other charges in a 2006 case. Summers could face the death penalty if convicted.
More as the story develops.