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 Myron Britt

July 30, 2009

After hearing weeks of evidence, it took jurors just 40 minutes today to decide that Myron Britt does not deserve the death penalty for the 2003 murder of his wife.

Britt Convicted, Jury to Decide Sentence

July 29, 2009

Yesterday, a Robeson County jury convicted Myron Britt of shooting his wife in 2003.  Today, they listened as Britt’s sobbing children begged them to spare their father’s life.  Tomorrow, they will hear closing arguments and begin to deliberate whether Myron Britt should receive life without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.

Closing Arguments in Britt Trial Today

July 27, 2009

Attorneys for both sides are expected to give closing arguments today in the guilt/innocence phase of Myron Britt’s second trial for the 2003 murder of his wife, Nancy.  Britt was first tried in 2005, but the jury could not reach a unanimous decision.  If Britt is convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Britt Trial Going on the Road

July 17, 2009

In Robeson County, the trial of Myron Britt is continuing.  Britt is on trial a second time for the murder of his wife; the first jury could not unanimously agree whether he was guilty or innocent.

Next week, jurors will travel from Lumberton to Cary, where Britt lived at the time of the murder.  They will view Britt’s home from the property of a neighbor, who is expected to testify that if Britt had left the house the night of the murder, he would have seen it.

Ongoing NC Capital Trials

July 9, 2009

In Bladen County, John Franklin Hester is on trial for a 2007 murder.  There have been no new media reports in the case since jury selection started last month.

In Robeson County, the trial of Myron Britt continues.  Defense attorneys have been questioning investigators about flaws in the evidence.

Britt Trial to Start Monday

July 2, 2009

In Robeson County, the capital trial of Myron Britt is set to begin next week. A pretrial hearing was held yesterday to determine whether jurors would hear evidence that a bullet fired from a gun owned by Britt matched the bullet that killed his wife.  One expert asserts that the bullets did come from the same gun, while another says it’s not possible to know for sure.


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