Judge overturns 1991 murder conviction, death sentence

WILMINGTON – The second-longest serving inmate on Delaware’s death row may be freed on bail as soon as next week.

At a hearing that left prosecutors speechless today, Superior Court Judge John A. Parkins overturned the conviction and death sentence against Jermaine Marlow Wright for the 1991 slaying of liquor store clerk Phillip Seifert. To read the full story, click here.


Capital Punishment: Its Morality, Politics, Economics, and Effectiveness

Ed Chapman

The Episcopal Peace Fellowship is presenting a panel
presentation and discussion about the death penalty in the library at
All Souls Cathedral (Biltmore Village) on Saturday, September 17 from
10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Panel members will be Dick Taylor (CEO of
North Carolina Advocates for Justice), Jean Parks (Western Carolinians
for Death Penalty Repeal) and Ed Chapman (a death row exoneree).  Join
us and bring your friends for an open discussion on the subject. There
is no admission but there will be a free will offering to provide an
honorarium for Mr. Chapman.  For more information, contact Jean Parks
at jparks@grandcreative.com or 828-329-8306.

WRAL.com: After five years, NC’s death penalty still in limbo

Video at the link: After five years, NC’s death penalty still in limbo.

Five years ago yesterday, Samuel Flippen was executed by the state of North Carolina. He was sentenced to death in March of 1995 for the murder of his two-year old stepdaughter, Britnie Nichol Hutton.

The state hasn’t executed any one since Flippen. For the past five years, there’s been a de facto moratorium on the death penalty in NC. It’s the longest gap between executions since they were banned between 1962 and 1983.

Meantime, 158 people are sitting on death row — left in legal limbo because of ongoing disputes over how North Carolina executes prisoners who’ve been sentenced to die for their crimes…

Rest of the article at the link.

Struck by lightning: the vagaries of American execution

It couldn’t have taken more than a two-minute visit to the web site of The Innocence Project to persuade most rational adults that the death penalty is not only cruel and unusual, but a costly and ineffective way to deter murder.

That’s the gist of a new report from the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC). It’s entitled “Struck by Lightning: The Continuing Arbitrariness of the Death Penalty Thirty-Five Years After Its Re-instatement in 1976.” Richard Dieter, DPIC’s executive director, is the report’s author.

To read the rest of a very compelling case concerning the randomness and failure of death sentencing and execution, click here.

Hopes Perdue will veto attempt to repeal Racial Justice Act

Hopes Perdue will veto attempt to repeal Racial Justice Act

Written by

Jean Parks, Fletcher

11:13 AM, Jun. 14, 2011|

In 2009, I worked hard to help get the Racial Justice Act passed. That was before I learned that the man serving time for my sister’s murder might have been wrongfully convicted by a Wake County jury. If he is in fact innocent, I believe unconscious racial bias may have played a role in his conviction.

So I am now an even more ardent supporter of the RJA. I know the law only applies to death penalty cases currently, and this inmate was not sentenced to death, but we have to start somewhere to eliminate the conscious and unconscious bias in our legal system that is our heritage as Americans.

Recent studies clearly demonstrate that racial bias is present in NC’s practice of capital punishment. Our legislators have a civil and moral duty to correct that injustice by preserving the RJA in its current form. If they fail that duty, I hope and pray Governor Perdue will veto their attempt to repeal the RJA.





CONTACT: Alex Holsten (910) 471-0822

Asheville — Alex Holsten’s parents paid hundreds of dollars to give him a basketball signed by Shaquille O’Neal and Dwayne Wade, but Holsten could not be dissuaded by NC death row exoneree Glen Edward Chapman — the UNC-A student insisted on donating the basketball to the Freedom Ball, a fundraiser for Chapman, which takes place this Thursday, March 31, at the Grey Eagle Music Hall from 7 till midnight, featuring a fabulous musical lineup: David LaMotte; Skinny Legs & All, The Krektones and Kinjah, as well as a silent auction where the basketball and other donated items will go to the highest bidder.

Holsten and Chapman became friends after the college senior started donating his time to death penalty repeal and reform efforts. Holsten was inspired to write his senior thesis on the historic NC Racial Justice Act, which serves to eliminate racial bias from the state’s capital punishment system.

Chapman celebrates his third year of freedom this year. He was released on April 2, 2008, after spending more than thirteen years on North Carolina’s death row for crimes he did not commit. Hickory police detectives hid evidence of Chapman’s innocence. Chapman’s lawyers did not bother to investigate multiple reports by people who saw the other victim the day after the prosecution claimed she was murdered by Edward, The fact that that “victim” was not murdered after all provided another ground for reversing Chapman’s conviction.

It was only when local attorney Frank Goldsmith and mitigation specialist Dr. Pam Laughon, chair of the Psychology Department at UNC-Asheville, started working on Edward’s case more than a decade later, that the truth began to be revealed. Even then, it took years to achieve justice and secure Chapman’s freedom. His son had grown up and his own mother as well as his son’s mother had died while Chapman was wrongly imprisoned.

All proceeds ($10 student; $15 general and $25 patron tickets are available online at http://braveulysses.com/tickets or at the door) go to Edward Chapman.

Contact: Alex Cury
(828) 253-5088

Tyrone Greenlee gives persistent voice to concerns over racism, social justice

Story in the Asheville Citizen-Times Sunday Edition about community leader Tyrone Greenlee includes his instrumental work in WNC for the NC Racial Justice Act, which seeks to eliminate racial bias in the imposition of the death penalty in North Carolina.

Tyrone Greenlee, executive director of the nonprofit Christians for a United Community, works out of an office in the rectory of St. Matthais Episcopal Church off South Charlotte Street. Greenlee said his organization wants to keep a conversation about racism and social justice issues going in Asheville. "This is ongoing work, work you never leave," he said. 

Tyrone Greenlee, executive director of the nonprofit Christians for a United Community, works out of an office in the rectory of St. Matthais Episcopal Church off South Charlotte Street. Greenlee said his organization wants to keep a conversation about racism and social justice issues going in Asheville. “This is ongoing work, work you never leave,” he said. / Erin Brethauer/ebrethau@citizen-times.com

On Thursday, the 31st of March, WNCDPR and the WNC ACLU will host

Ed Chapman’s THIRD ANNUAL FREEDOM BALL at The Grey Eagle

Doors open at 6 p.m. General admission: $15 and Students: $10.

2011 marks three years since Glen Edward Chapman’s release from North Carolina Death Row after spending 14 years behind bars in Raleigh.  Like the first and second Freedom Ball, this year’s event promises great live music from multiple bands, a silent auction and the celebration of freedom with Ed.  All proceeds will go to Mr. Chapman.  Join WNCDPR, the WNC ACLU, and Ed for this year’s Freedom Ball!

Hickory Daily Record: Opinion: Wrongly imprisoned, release is not exoneration

“Since the time of the shocking announcement back in 2008 that Glen Edward Chapman, a resident of Hickory, had been released from death row after 14 long years because the evidence against him was so scant, I have been perplexed by the deafening community silence surrounding this case.

Glen Edward … Shhhhh! He had been convicted in 1994 of the murders of Betty Jean Ramseur and Tenene Yvette Conley. In November 2007, Glen was granted a new trial by Superior Court Judge Robert C. Ervin.

Subsequently, it was decided that there was not even enough evidence for a new trial. The DA’s office simply threw out the case.
So how does this man regain his dignity? How will the community give humanity back to a being who has been cruelly dehumanized? Has Glen been exonerated or merely released?

I believe that Glen deserves the best life has to offer him. Glen deserves the best America has to offer him. Glen deserves the best that Hickory has to offer him. He’s been released from death row, but not exonerated.”

Full editorial here: Wrongly imprisoned, release is not exoneration

CharlotteObserver: Former death-row inmate sues city

“A man who spent nearly 14 years on death row is suing the city of Hickory and two former detectives who his attorney claims withheld evidence that supported his innocence.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Asheville, claims that Glen Edward Chapman was wrongly convicted of two murders because of police misconduct by detectives Dennis Alvin Rhoney and Mark Richardson Sams. It seeks an unspecified amount of compensation.

Chapman was convicted in 1994 for the murders of Tenene Yvette Conley, 28, and Betty Jean Ramseur, 31.

Prospective renters looking at a home in southeast Hickory discovered Conley’s body in a downstairs closet in August 1992. A week later, Ramseur’s body was found in a burned-out house in Hickory. She died several weeks earlier.

Chapman was exonerated in the crimes and released from prison in April 2008, five months after Judge Robert Ervin issued a 186-page ruling that said detective Rhoney withheld evidence and lied on the stand. He also said Chapman’s court-appointed defense attorneys did a poor job investigating the 1992 killings.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges Rhoney, the lead investigator in Ramseur’s case, intentionally withheld evidence from prosecutors. One item withheld was a memo about a phone call in which Rhoney was told that an inmate made incriminating statements about killing Ramseur to another inmate.

The lawsuit also claims Rhoney withheld information about a witness who identified a different man – not Chapman – in a photo lineup as the man he saw with a woman at the house where Ramseur’s body was found.

The lawsuit says detective Sams was the lead investigator in the Conley case and withheld interviews from prosecutors. One statement came from Conley’s housemate, who told officers Conley was last seen with two men – neither of them Chapman. One of the men had also reportedly been the last person seen with another woman before she was strangled years earlier.

Rhoney took over the Conley case after Sams left the police department in February 1994, but he, too, failed to turn over the evidence Sams withheld to prosecutors, the lawsuit says.

At trial, prosecutors had argued that Chapman beat the women to death in separate drug-related fights. Chapman had admitted that he knew both women and had smoked crack with each of them, but he denied any involvement in their deaths.

“All of the evidence goes against the state’s theories,” Chapman’s attorney Jessica Leaven said Wednesday.

Sams died in November 2009. Chapman is suing his estate.

Reached at home Wednesday, Rhoney declined to comment. He is no longer a police officer, Leaven said.

In 2008, the State Bureau of Investigation announced it would investigate Rhoney, who at the time was a Burke County sheriff’s deputy. He was placed on paid administrative leave pending the investigation’s results. The result of that investigation was unavailable Wednesday.

Hickory staff attorney Arnita Dula said Wednesday the city had not yet been served with the lawsuit and declined to comment.

Chapman, 42, lives in Asheville and often gives lectures at local universities on life after death row, his attorney said.

After he was freed, Chapman declined to criticize either the criminal justice system or the investigators, including Rhoney.

“His fate is not in my hands,” Chapman told the (Raleigh) News & Observer the day of his release. “I have no bitterness. Why should I give somebody the benefit of knowing that they can just make me bitter?”

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