SCHEDULED NC EXECUTIONS
Sammy Crystal Perkins - postponed due to stays (see below)
Bernard Rouse - postponed due to stays (see below)
George Franklin Page - postponed due
to stays (see below)
NC HOUSE FAILS TO PASS MORATORIUM BILL
At 6:14am on Sunday, July 18th, the NC General Assembly declared its 2004 session over.
During the session, they were able to pass the $15.9 billion budget, a contentious school calendar bill, corporate campaign
finance restrictions and monitoring of nonprofit groups that receive public money. Additionally, they were able to establish
a recreational saltwater fishing license.
The House failed to even debate the Moratorium Bill, despite wide-spread public support for the
measure. Responsibilty for this failure can be found with the co-speakers, who began the session with an agreement that
neither of them would allow legislation to reach the floor unless they both agreed to do so. This policy also meant
that conservatives were unable to have legislation debated which was important to them, such as a state constitutional amendment
banning same-sex marriage.
OPEN DISCOVERY BILL PASSED BY HOUSE
On Thursday, July 15th, the NC House overwhelmingly approved a bill which would expand the breadth of information that
state district attorneys and defense attorneys would be required to share with each other prior to trial. The bill (HB1800
) passed with a margin of 110-2. It would require that prosecutors provide access to all law-enforcement
and prosecutorial files (a process known as "open discovery") before felony trials. The defense, in exchange, must tell
prosecutors if they plan to use defenses such as insanity or self-defense or to provide details of an alibi they plan to present.
The Senate has already unanimously approved its version of the bill, but will still be required to approve the House's version.
The change in policy has emerged due to high-profile cases in which prosecutors illegally failed to provide defendants
with information that would be favorable for their cases. The most notable case is that of Alan Gell, who spent six
years on death row for the murder of a Bertie County man before being released after he found not guilty at a retrial.
In that case, the prosecutor in his first trial did not share witness statements that cast doubt upon his guilt and which
may have led to his acquittal.
BLACK LEADERS SPEAK OUT IN FAVOR OF MORATORIUM
Prominent black leaders in North Carolina spoke out in favor of the moratorium bill in a letter written
to House Co-Speakers Jim Black and Richard Morgan and to Gov. Mike Easley. Numbered among them were
poet Maya Angelou, Duke University historian John Hope Franklin, civil rights activist Julius Chambers,
former House Speaker Dan Blue, ex-U.S. Rep. Eva Clayton and former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt.
Within the text of the letter, the leaders pointed out that "the highly publicized exonerations
of death row inmates demonstrate that North Carolina's system of capital punishment is flawed and in need of careful study
and reform. These cases do not reflect a system that is working properly." (The letter and the press release can be found on our literature page.)
The letter helped to counter the claim by the NC Conference of District Attorneys that a moratorium is not
necessary. Frank Parrish, the DA for seven northeastern counties and conference president, spoke a press conference
given on July 13th to urge the House to reject the bill. At the conference, he said "With the historical record
in this state, it flies in the face of reason, it flies in the face of common sense ... to suggest that a moratorium is either
wise or warranted."
SAMMY PERKINS' EXECUTION HALTED
A federal judge granted a preliminary injunction to halt the execution
of a Greenville man on May 11th. Gov. Easley also held a clemency hearing for Perkins on the same day. Sammy Perkins,
50, was one of four death-row inmates who filed federal petitions trying to prevent the state from carrying out their executions,
under the claim that lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. Judge Terrance Boyle granted
the injunction while the U.S. Supreme Court considers a case that challenges the constitutionality of lethal injection for some
Sammy Perkins was scheduled to be executed May 21st. He was sentenced to death in 1992 after he was
found guilty of the rape and slaying of his girlfriend's seven-year-old granddaughter.
HUNT GRANTED "PARDON OF INNOCENCE" BY EASLEY
On Thursday, April 15, 2004, Governor Easley formally pardoned Darryl
Hunt. Easley granted him a "pardon of innocence, thus finishing a process begun with DNA evidence and a confession
by another man in which he acted alone. Hunt was tried and convicted of first-degree murder twice for the 1984 murder
and rape of Deborah Sykes. The charges against Hunt were vacated by a judge on February 6, 2004. This is
only the second pardon Easley has granted in his three years as governor.
Hunt is now eligible for $20,000 per year he spent in jail--at
18 years, it is possible he could receive $360,000. The state settlement money will go into a trust to be used
by him for his education and to buy a house for his family.
To learn more about Darryl Hunt's case, go to this site: http://extras.journalnow.com/hunt/index.html It chronicles every step of the case, from the 911 phone call to the governor's pardon. Additionally, go to the
Literature page to download and read a summary of Hunt's case.