NC Death Penalty – 2011 Year in Review

January 5, 2012

Quick Facts

  • Executions: 0
  • Persons removed from death row for other reasons: 3
  • New death sentences: 3
  • Capital trials not resulting in death: 11

In Detail

  • Persons Removed from Death Row

> Isaac Stroud (Durham) – In February, Isaac Stroud was declared incompetent to be executed and re-sentenced to life.

> John Fleming (Northampton) – This fall, John Fleming died of natural causes at the age of 83.  Fleming was first sent to death row at the age of 70.

> David “Bo” Williams (Bertie) – David Williams died of natural causes at the age of 46.  He had been on death row since 1996.

  • New Death Sentences

> Tony Summers (Guilford) – Tony Summers was convicted of stabbing Lavell Williams and assaulting her two children.

> Danny Hembree (Gaston) – Danny Hembree was convicted of smothering Heather Catterton.

> William Robinson (Stanly) – William Robinson was convicted of shooting Keith Crump and injuring another man.

  • Capital Trials Not Resulting in Death

> Michael Mead (Gaston) – Michael Mead was found not guilty of killing his pregnant fiancée and setting her house on fire.  The defense presented evidence that Mead was 50 miles away when the crime occurred.

> Al Bellamy (Iredell/Gaston) – A mistrial was declared when it was revealed during the guilt-or-innocence phase of Al Bellamy’s trial that prosecutors failed to disclose over 1700 pages of evidence to the defense.  If the State elects to try Bellamy again, it will be prohibited from seeking the death penalty.

> Robert Stewart (Moore) – Robert Stewart was convicted of second-degree murder after opening fire in a nursing home and killing eight people.  The cumulative sentence was at least 141 years in prison.

> Brandon Gross (Buncombe) – Brandon Gross was convicted of second degree murder, robbery, and burglary for beating a man to death in his home.  He will serve at least 43 years in prison.

> Shelton Mills (Pitt) – Shelton Mills was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole after being convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend.

> Danny Thomas (Columbus) –Danny Thomas, previously convicted of murder in another county was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for four additional killings.

> Joshua Stepp (Wake) – Joshua Stepp was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for the sexual assault and beating death of his ten month-old stepdaughter.

> Larry Robinson (Robeson) – Larry Robinson killed two men and injured a third in an ambush-style assault, and was sentenced to life without parole.

> Melba Slaydon (Randolph) – During jury selection, Melba Slaydon accepted a plea to life without parole in the killing of her husband.

> Dennis Mills (Alamance) – During jury selection, Dennis Mills accepted a plea to life without parole for shooting two men to death in their home.  Mills had previously been convicted of another homicide.

> James Richardson (Pitt) – After James Richardson was convicted of killing two men in a drive-by shooting, prosecutors dropped their request for the death penalty.

Richardson Guilty; DA Drops Death Penalty

April 7, 2011

After four days of jury deliberations, James Richardson was found guilty of first-degree murder for the killings of Andrew Kirby and Landon Blackley.  After the verdict was announced, the District Attorney informed the court that, upon request of the victims’ families, he was no longer seeking the death penalty.  Richardson was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.  He maintains his innocence.

Closing Arguments Heard in Richardson Trial

April 1, 2011

Both sides are presenting their closing arguments this morning in the guilt-or-innocence stage of James Richardson‘s trial.  A Pitt County jury will soon decide whether Richardson is the person who killed two men in a drive-by shooting in 2009.  The defense presented evidence that someone else pulled the trigger, but the State maintains it was Richardson.

If they convict Richardson of first-degree murder, the jury will decide whether to sentence him to death or to life without the possibility of parole.

Capital Trial Update 3-25-11

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.

Capital Trial Update 3-11-11

March 11, 2011

The trial of Tony Summers is ongoing in Guilford County.

The Robeson County trial of De’Ante Harris has been delayed, and there is no media update on the Columbus County trial of Danny Thomas.

The trial of James Earl Richardson is expected to begin next week in Pitt County.  Richardson is accused of a 2009 drive-by shooting that killed two men outside of a nightclub in Greenville.


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