NC Death Penalty Year in Review 2009

December 29, 2009

Quick Numbers

# of executions – 0

# of inmates leaving death row for other reasons – 5

# of new death sentences – 2

# of death penalty trials resulting in less than death – 7

Individual Cases

* Capital Trials

Michael Sherrill (Mecklenburg) – death

Hasson Bacote (Johnston) – death

Mark Andrews (Cumberland) – mistrial (jury could not decide whether guilty or innocent)

Michael Ryan (Gaston) – mistrial (jury could not decide whether guilty or innocent)

John Hester (Bladen) – life without parole

Myron Britt (Robeson) – life without parole

Louis Scates (Lincoln) – life without parole (plea during jury selection)

Lawrence Flood (Alamance) – life without parole

Anthony McMillan (Cumberland) – life without parole

* Death Row Cases

William Gray (Lenoir) – removed from death row after US Supreme Court denied State’s appeal of federal court order for new sentencing hearing

Elmer Ray McNeill (Wake) – removed from death row after federal court granted new sentencing hearing

Dane Locklear (Robeson) – removed from death row after NC Supreme Court granted new sentencing hearing

George “Stephan” Goode (Johnston) – removed from death row after federal court granted new sentencing hearing

Jimmy McNeill (Scotland) – removed from death row after state court granted new sentencing hearing; State agreed to life without parole

* Other Cases

David Gainey (Harnett) – still housed on death row but awarded a new trial

Johnny Burr (Alamance) – still housed on death row; magistrate recommended new trial, but district court has not made the recommendation final

Johnny Parker (Sampson) – still housed on death row, but federal court has granted a hearing on Brady issues

Michael Maske (Forsyth) – removed from death row in 2004, re-sentenced to life without parole this year

Stanley Sanders (Transylvania) – removed from death row in 1990, re-sentenced to life this year

And last but certainly not least, 2009 was the year in which North Carolina passed the Racial Justice Act.  The RJA provides that:

No person shall be subject to or given a sentence of death or shall be executed pursuant to any judgment that was sought or obtained on the basis of race.

One would have hoped that it wouldn’t have taken us until 2009 to get this far, but North Carolina has the most comprehensive law in the country aimed at eliminating racial prejudice from the administration of capital punishment, and for that we are thankful.

Onward to 2010.

Life for John Franklin Hester

July 27, 2009

A Bladen County jury has sentenced John Franklin Hester to life without the possibility of parole for the murder of Randolph  Hughes.  Jurors deliberated for several hours before deciding not to give Hester the death penalty.  He addressed them, saying, “I want to thank you for sparing my life.”

Hester Trial Underway

July 10, 2009

In Bladen County, jurors have heard opening arguments in the capital murder trial of John Franklin Hester.  In addition to first-degree murder, Hester is also charged with assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, and second-degree kidnapping.  He could face the death penalty if convicted.


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