Category Archives: North Carolina

Mark Carver

Mark Carver is serving a life sentence without parole after his 2011 conviction for strangling Irina Yarmolenko. Her body was found near her car in Mount Holly, on the banks of the Catawba River. Carver and his cousin were fishing downstream at the time.

Chris Mumma, executive director of North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, is seeking a new trial, arguing that Carver received an inadequate defense and that key pieces of evidence used to convict him would not stand up to updated testing and new information uncovered in the case. In particular, Mumma claims that far more conclusive testing and reporting of DNA will undermine the prosecution’s contention that Carver’s genetic material was found on Yarmolenko’s car.

She also says Carver’s statements to police indicating that he knew the victim’s height can be challenged by interrogation video – never seen by a jury – that shows he was coached into giving the description by a detective.

In 2016, the Charlotte Observer published “Death by the River,” a six-part series raising questions about Carver’s guilt.

Source: Defense in disputed murder case wants Gaston DA punished for withholding evidence June 14, 2017

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Jeffrey MacDonald

Jeffrey Robert MacDonald was convicted in 1979 of murdering his pregnant wife and two daughters in February 1970, at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

MacDonald was a U.S. Army officer (Special Forces Green Beret) and a medical doctor. He maintains that a group of Charles Manson-type hippies committed the murders.

In 2011, an Innocence Project press release stated :

Since MacDonald was convicted of the murders in 1979, considerable evidence of his innocence has come to light.  Most recently, retired US Marshall Jimmy Britt came forward with information that another suspect in the case, Helena Stoeckley, admitted to the prosecutor that she was in the house on the night of MacDonald’s murder and that he treated to indict her for first degree murder if she admitted that in court.  In addition, DNA testing on evidence that was recovered from the fingernails scrapings of one of the victims and a hair found under another victim did not match MacDonald.  Earlier, evidence came to light that a FBI forensic examiner mislead the jury about synthetic hair evidence.  MacDonald claimed the hairs were from the wig of one of the murders, but the forensic examiner incorrectly claimed they were from one of the children’s dolls.

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BBC Documentary (1989):

Shan Carter

Shan Carter robbed a drug dealer, and following an outbreak of violence related to this robbery was convicted of three 1997 murders and sentenced to death. However the truth may be that:

  • Shan is completely innocent of the kidnapping and murder of drug dealer Donald Brunson.
  • Shan was acting in self-defense when he shot at drug dealer Tyrone Baker and possibly killed him.
  • Shan may have been responsible for the accidental and inadvertent death of Demetrius Green, an 8 year-old boy who was sitting in a car when struck by a ricocheting bullet.

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Lamont McKoy

It’s been nearly 25 years since 18-year-old Lamont McKoy was convicted for the murder of Myron Hailey in Fayetteville, North Carolina. But evidence — that was never introduced at trial — suggests McKoy never murdered anyone.

That didn’t stop the North Carolina Court of Appeals, which on Monday rejected, without comment, a request by McKoy’s attorneys to hold a hearing that would have addressed why this evidence was never revealed at trial. Or, for that matter, why it still is relevant today to help answer a basic question that has swirled around this case for decades: why is McKoy serving hard time, a life sentence, for a murder the feds later claimed was committed by another man?

More at the Marshall Project

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Darryl Howard

From Innocence Project Article July 2, 2015

Quote

In honor of Independence Day this year, the Innocence Project calls attention to the case of Darryl Howard, who, like others who have been wrongfully convicted at the hands of a flawed criminal justice system, is fighting to prove his innocence and to secure his freedom.

As some may recall, in May of 2014, a North Carolina judge ruled that Innocence Project client Darryl Howard was entitled to a new trial for the 1991 murders of a woman and her teenage daughter. Howard was convicted of the murders in 1995, but North Carolina Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson overturned the murder and arson convictions based on newly discovered evidence of innocence, including new DNA test results and evidence of prosecutorial and police misconduct in Howard’s case.

According to Judge Hudson, Howard’s case had the most “horrendous prosecution” that he’d seen in his 30-year law career. He vacated Howard’s convictions, but the state appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.  Judge Hudson was poised to release Howard from prison on unsecured bail, but the state asked the Court of Appeals to stay Howard’s release on bail pending the appellate court’s ruling.  The Court of Appeals denied the state’s request.  As a result, the state moved the North Carolina Supreme Court to stay his release on bail pending the appellate court’s ruling.  The North Caroline Supreme Court has not yet ruled on the motion, leaving Howard still incarcerated.

During that time, Howard has suffered more than the already intolerable injustice of remaining in prison despite his convictions being overturned. Earlier this year, Howard’s son died. In March, Howard’s wife, Nannie, penned an op-ed for the News & Observer in which she discussed the effects that Howard’s wrongful conviction and subsequent absence have had upon his family. Nannie wrote: “He is heartbroken that he missed out on so much of his son’s life and feels like he lost a part of himself. Because Darryl has been imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, the streets raised his son. I have to keep reminding him that his son’s death wasn’t his fault. Had Darryl had the opportunity to have a meaningful relationship with his son, he might still be alive. Now Darryl will never know his son.”

The North Carolina Court of Appeals heard oral argument in April on Howard’s appeal. A decision could come as soon as July 7, but it could be longer. In the meantime, Howard sits behind bars, an innocent man who awaits his very own independence day.

Learn more about Howard’s case and read Nannie’s op-ed here.

End Quote

Darryl Howard and the rampaging prosecutor: Durham learns little from Duke lacrosse debacle Radley Balko, Washington Post, March 2014

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2014-05-27_howard_opinion Ruling vacating the conviction

Jason Young

Jason Young was convicted for the November 2006 murder of his wife, Michelle.  He was convicted based on very weak, manufactured circumstantial evidence.  There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime.

A neighbor testified that she saw an SUV type vehicle exiting the Young’s driveway at approximately 5:20 that morning. She said there was a white male driver and a female passenger with thick, bushy hair, who looked away sharply as she passed.

Two footprints in blood were identified near the body: One was a Hushpuppy shoe (approximate size, 12) and the other was a Franklin athletic shoe, size 10.

Unidentified DNA was found on a jewelry box in the Young’s bedroom, and unidentified fingerprints and palm prints were found in the Young’s home, some near the body.

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April 1, 2014

— The North Carolina Court of Appeals on Tuesday ordered a third trial for a man convicted of murdering his pregnant wife in their Wake County home seven years ago, saying a judge should not have allowed evidence about a wrongful death lawsuit.

May 19, 2015

North Carolina’s highest court is considering whether a Raleigh man convicted of killing his pregnant wife should get a new trial.

The state Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in the Jason Young case.

Young is serving a life sentence at the Alexander Correctional Institution in Alexander County for the death of his wife Michelle. She was five months pregnant in 2006 when her bloody body was found in their bedroom with their unharmed daughter. She was beaten to death.

..

Young was convicted of killing Michelle in March, 2012. At his first trial in 2011, a jury couldn’t come to a verdict deadlocking 8-to-4 for acquittal. Eight months later, he was tried again and convicted, after prosecutors introduced evidence that wasn’t used in the first trial.

In April 2014, the state Court of Appeals said the judge at the second trial shouldn’t have allowed evidence about a wrongful death lawsuit and child custody complaint.

Edgar Patino

Sergeant Edgar Patino plead guilty to a murder he did not commit ( when faced with the threat of the death penalty ).

On June 14, 2008, Megan Touma, 7 months pregnant, was murdered. Her body was found on the 21st June, 2008, at the Cross Creek Mall Fairfield Inn, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Patino worked for the Criminal Investigation Command of the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg.

When police entered, they found the Zodiac sign written in lipstick on a mirror.

Megan was killed in the bathtub and had been rabbit punched in the throat.

A Zodiac letter, dated June 17, 2008 (four days before the body was found), was sent, claiming responsibility.

On June 28, 2008, Edward Edwards went online, using his grandmother’s name “Anibal”, implicating Patino.

Edwards also planted a typewriter to implicate Patino.

Patino was arrested on June 28, 2008. He denied the murder.

In 2010, threatened with a charge of 1st degree murder, and a possible death penalty, Patino plead guilty to 2nd degree murder, his lawyer did not inform him he could not appeal.

Patino was contacted in April 2013, and wrote back in a letter dated May 28, 2013.

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Supreme Court Justice’s perfect capital-punishment case – exonerated

A little over two decades ago, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was dismissive of then-Justice Harry Blackmun’s concerns about the death penalty. In fact, Scalia had a case study in mind that demonstrated exactly why the system of capital punishment has value.
As regular readers may recall, Scalia specifically pointed to a convicted killer named Henry Lee McCollum as an obvious example of a man who deserved to be put to death. “For example, the case of an 11-year-old girl raped by four men and then killed by stuffing her panties down her throat,” Scalia wrote in a 1994 ruling. “How enviable a quiet death by lethal injection compared with that!”
For Scalia, McCollum was the perfect example – a murderer whose actions were so heinous that his crimes stood as a testament to the merit of capital punishment itself.
Yesterday, McCollum was pardoned. Scalia’s perfect example of a man who deserved to be killed by the state was innocent.

Michael Peterson

Michael Peterson was convicted in 2003 of murdering his second wife, Kathleen Peterson.

Prosecutors were never able to establish a clear motive and didn’t find a murder weapon, but argued that Peterson likely killed his wife with a fireplace blow poke during an argument and then made it appear as if she fell down the stairs.

In late 2009, Peterson’s attorneys raised a new theory of Kathleen Peterson’s death, that she had been attacked by an owl outside, fallen after rushing inside, and been knocked unconscious after hitting her head on the first tread of the stairs. The owl theory was raised by Durham attorney T. Lawrence Pollard, who raised this possibility after reading the SBI evidence list and finding a “feather” listed.

On December 15, 2011, Peterson was granted a new trial. Retrial is set for May 8, 2017.

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Was an Owl the Real Culprit in the Peterson Murder Mystery? November 12, 2016

February 24, 2017 N.C. novelist walks free after agreeing to plea deal in wife’s death

Ronnie Long

Ronnie Long was a 19-­year-young-black man when his life was condemned to a broken system overflowing with institutional racism. Justice was an oath, yet only an image hiding in the darkness for many, including Ronnie. After 39 years that image of justice is still hiding, though there is ample opportunity for it to be unleashed.

It all began in 1976 when Ronnie, accompanied by his father, stood before a judge in Cabarrus County, N.C. facing trespassing charges for being in a public park near his home. As the judge dismissed him from those charges, unbeknownst to Ronnie, behind him was a separate judge condemning him to life. That judge was a white woman, a prominent citizen of the county, who had been victimized in her home during a robbery that led to her rape two weeks prior. Chauffeured by detectives to the courtroom, with “reason to believe that maybe this day there might be a man in the courtroom that she could identify..as the man who raped her” she identified Ronnie Long, according to court records.

It took nearly ninety minutes of “constant looking around…. read more here.

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