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Famous Author Indicates That Death Row Inmates in North Carolina Did Not Receive a Fair Trial


The News Observer published an interesting op-ed written by famous author John Grisham on October 11, 2018 concerning serious issues with our criminal defense system here in North Carolina; not just when it comes to sentencing, but when it comes to the most serious penalty available: the death penalty.

According to Grisham, there are 141 people currently on North Carolina’s death row (where similar states have an average of around three people). In addition, most-everyone on death row failed to receive a fair trial, and also received trials and sentences that were both grossly unfair and significantly outdated, as we discuss below.

Those Unfairly Convicted Before Basic Reforms Passed

While North Carolina did pass a slew of sentencing reforms concerning capital prosecutions years ago, most of those who are on death row were tried in the 1990s before these reforms were passed, and the reforms do not apply retroactively to those already convicted. For example, some of these specific convictions include:

  • Nathan Bowie: convicted and sentenced to death after being represented by an incompetent attorney who was known for alcoholism and who had a number of other innocent clients go to death row;
  • Johnny Burr: sentenced to death after his attorneys conceded his guilt and failed to examine evidence favorable to his innocence;
  • Johnny Daughtry: sentenced to death after the prosecutor concealed evidence which raised reasonable doubts about his guilt and, in fact, pointed to another suspect;
  • Elrico Fowler: whose conviction rested almost entirely on testimony of eyewitness who picked Fowler out of a lineup after his photo had already been published with news reports about the crime and whose photo had already been shown to the eyewitness; and
  • Timothy Richardson: sentenced to death even though there was/is clear evidence that he has significant intellectual disabilities caused by severe lead poisoning and fetal alcohol syndrome in childhood.

75 percent of all North Carolina’s death row inmates were tried before basic reforms were instituted and would, today, face entirely different prosecution processes with vastly different rules and, unquestionably, trials with very different outcomes. In fact in many of these cases, not only would these defendants not receive the death penalty, but the charges against them would likely be dropped altogether.

Contact an Experienced, Dedicated Criminal Defense Attorney

When it comes to criminal trials and making sure that you receive a fair one here in North Carolina, it is an understatement to say that the stakes are high. There are rules that apply include the right to being represented by an attorney who has experience in capital trials, as well as rules that require prosecutors to turn over all of the evidence in their possession and provide strict oversight of police lineup procedures. In addition, by law, the death penalty cannot be imposed on defendants with intellectual disabilities.

If you have been arrested and/or charged with a crime, contact experienced North Carolina criminal defense attorney Rashad Hauter at Hauter Law Firm, PC today to ensure that you have an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney working by your side.


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