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.

Death Sentence for Sherrill

February 23, 2009

After deliberating for less than three hours, a Mecklenberg County jury has sentenced Michael Wayne Sherrill to death.  It is the first new death sentence of 2009, and the first time a Charlotte jury has sent someone to death row in almost a decade.

Sherrill was convicted of the 1984 rape and murder of Cynthia Dotson.  Sherrill was not arrested until a DNA match was made in 2004.

Jury to Deliberate Sentence for Sherrill

February 20, 2009

Michael Wayne Sherrill, having been convicted of first-degree murder, will soon learn whether he will be sentenced to death for the crime.  Sherrill was convicted this week of raping and murdering Cynthia Dotson in 1984.  He was not arrested until 2005.

Pleading for his life, Sherrill’s attorneys, Deke Falls and Bill Causey, presented evidence that Sherrill is a changed man.  Although he was accused of several crimes in 1984, he was addicted to drugs at the time.  Sherrill has been clean since the early 1990’s, and has remained employed and on the right side of the law.  His family asked the jury for mercy.

Jurors will begin deliberating Friday.

Jury Deliberates for Michael Sherrill

February 18, 2009

In Charlotte, a jury is deciding whether Michael Wayne Sherrill is guilty of the 1984 rape and murder of Cynthia Dotson.  Sherrill was not arrested until 2005.  Prosecutors say that the presence of Sherrill’s DNA under Dotson’s fingernails proves that he is the killer.  Defense attorneys say that the DNA could  have gotten there when Sherrill was at Dotson’s home earlier in the day.  They add that there is no physical evidence that Dotson was raped.

If Sherrill is found guilty, he will be sentenced to either life without parole or the death penalty.

Sherrill Murder Trial Ongoing in Charlotte

January 26, 2009

Though it has been little reported, a capital murder trial is ongoing in Charlotte.  Michael Wayne Sherrill is accused of the February 1984 murder of Cynthia Dotson and could face the death penalty if convicted.  Dotson was found stabbed to death in a burning mobile home nearly 25 years ago.  Sherrill was not charged until 2005.

Sherrill is also accused of three other murders, but those are not an issue in this trial.  Arthur Jackson Bostic, Linda Taylor, and Amy Bostic were killed in October of 1984.

DW has been unable to determine why Sherrill was charged with these murders, except that he knew the victims and police received undefined tips about his involvement.


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