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Tilmon Golphin - North Carolina - Page 3
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  1. #21
    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    Judge Ammons volunteers to remove himself from hearing four racial bias cases

    A Cumberland County judge on Thursday removed himself from presiding over the cases of four people who in 2012 used a racial bias law to get off North Carolina's death row.

    During a hearing at the Cumberland County Courthouse, Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons said he was stepping aside to prevent any allegations about his ability to be fair from clouding the cases.

    The N.C. Supreme Court in December overturned the 4 inmates' reprieves and sent their cases to Ammons for new hearings under the state's controversial Racial Justice Act.

    Convicted murderers Marcus Reymond Robinson, Quintel Augustine, Tilmon Golphin and Christina Walters in 2012 were the first and only prisoners in the state to use the Racial Justice Act to get their death sentences commuted to life in prison without parole. The law, which was repealed in 2013, allowed death row inmates to attempt to prove racism was a factor in their cases and, based on the racism, overturn their death sentences.

    The 4 defendants persuaded now-retired Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Greg Weeks there was racial bias on the part of prosecutors in the selection of the juries that convicted the defendants and sentenced them to death.

    The defendants' lawyers since January filed many hundreds of pages of documents to argue that Ammons has conflicts of interest and biases that preclude him from presiding over these cases. They said he has professional and personal relationships with law enforcement and former colleagues in the Cumberland County District Attorney's Office that would keep him from fairly deciding whether Augustine, Walters, Robinson and Golphin should again be removed from death row.

    The lawyers accuse some of Ammons' former colleagues of racial bias and have noted that his brother-in-law used to be head of the N.C. Highway Patrol. One of Golphin's victims was a Highway Patrol trooper.

    In the court papers and again at Thursday morning's hearing, the lawyers alleged that Ammons showed racial bias when he was a prosecutor in the 1980s and used peremptory challenges to prevent several blacks from serving on a jury in a death penalty trial.

    Ammons, his voice raised sometimes in apparent anger, said he could fairly decide the cases.

    "I have sworn to administer judgment without favoritism to anyone or to the state. I will not violate those oaths for anyone or anything," he said.

    Later, he formally denied the defense lawyers' requests to recuse himself.

    But moments after that Ammons announced he would step aside.

    "As I looked out into this courtroom this morning, 2 things became very clear to me," he said.

    "No. 1: The enormous time, effort and expense these 9 defense counsel have devoted to the sole issue of replacing me with another judge.

    "No. 2: The continued burden of uncertainty and the toll of time that has happened over the last 25 years in some incidences, on all parties.

    "For these reasons, I will not allow my properly presiding over any of these cases to continue to be an issue when the court's true task should be determining the merits of these claims."

    Ammons said he would assign another judge or judges to take over the case. Defense lawyer Jay Ferguson and the others said Ammons should not be involved in the selection of any replacement judge "because of conflict and biases alleged in our motion to recuse."

    At that, Ammons said he would leave it up to the state Administrative Office of the Courts to pick the judge.

    A replacement judge will be appointed by the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, spokeswoman Sharon Gladwell said. "No timeline is established; however, appointments usually are made expeditiously," she said.

    Robinson, Augustine and Walters were in the courtroom Thursday and sat in shackles next to their lawyers. Golphin elected not to attend, but his lawyers were there on his behalf.

    About 50 spectators attended, including relatives of the defendants' victims.

    Robinson and an accomplice kidnapped, robbed and murdered teenager Erik Tornblom in 1991.

    Golphin and his brother, Kevin Golphin, killed Cumberland County Deputy David Hathcock and N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Ed Lowry during a traffic stop on Interstate 95 in 1997.

    In 1998, Christina Walters led a gang that kidnapped 3 women, drove them to remote areas and shot them execution-style. Tracy Lambert and Susan Moore died, and the 3rd victim barely survived.

    Quintel Augustine was convicted of shooting Fayetteville police Officer Roy Turner Jr. to death in 2001. Augustine maintains his innocence.

    Afterward, Al Lowry, who was Ed Lowry's brother, criticized the proceedings.

    "They keep crying foul. The decision's been made for the death penalty. And we've been 19 years and counting. Nothing ought to take this long," he said.

    "No matter what judge they select, it's always going to be an excuse on their side."

    ----

    THE INMATES

    Marcus Reymond Robinson and an accomplice kidnapped, robbed and murdered teenager Erik Tornblom in 1991. 16 years later, Robinson was hours from being put to death before a judge halted all executions in North Carolina over legal questions about North Carolina's execution method.

    Tilmon Golphin and his brother Kevin killed Cumberland County Deputy David Hathcock and state Highway Patrol Trooper Ed Lowry during a traffic stop on Interstate 95 in 1997.

    In 1998, Christina Walters led a gang that kidnapped 3 women, drove them to remote areas and shot them execution-style. Tracy Lambert and Susan Moore died; the 3rd victim barely survived.

    Quintel Augustine was convicted of shooting Fayetteville police Officer Roy Turner Jr. to death in 2001. He maintains that he is innocent.

    HISTORY OF THE RACIAL JUSTICE ACT

    August 2009: North Carolina passes the Racial Justice Act. It allows death row inmates to seek review of racial influence in their cases. If discriminatory practices are found, the inmates' sentences can be converted to life in prison without parole.

    April 2012: Out of about 150 claims filed by death row inmates, Marcus Robinson of Cumberland County was the 1st defendant to present evidence alleging racial bias in his trial. Superior Court Judge Greg Weeks rules that racism affected Robinson's trial and converts his sentence to life in prison without parole.

    July 2012: Lawmakers amend the Racial Justice Act to make it more difficult for defendants to prove allegations of racism.

    October 2012: Quintel Augustine, Christina Walters and Tilmon Golphin - all convicted for Cumberland County homicides - present their Racial Justice Act cases.

    December 2012: Weeks rules that racism influenced their trials. He converts their sentences to life in prison without parole.

    June 2013: The legislature repeals the Racial Justice Act.

    December 2015: The state Supreme Court overturns Weeks' rulings in the Robinson, Augustine, Walters and Golphin cases and sends them back to Cumberland County Superior Court to be done again.

    http://www.fayobserver.com/news/crim...217d3e12c.html

  2. #22
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    New judge to hear 4 Racial Justice Act murder cases

    A retired judge from the Charlotte area is taking over North Carolina's first four Racial Justice Act death penalty cases - all from Cumberland County - the state Administrative Office of the Courts said.

    And in a separate but related issue, the North Carolina Supreme Court is going to consider whether the rest of the state's roughly 145 Racial Justice Act defendants are entitled to hearings to pursue their claims that racism tainted their trials, the Center for Death Penalty Litigation said on Monday. The court is to decide whether those inmates get to use the act, despite the fact that the state legislature repealed it in 2013.

    The Racial Justice Act was enacted in 2009. Most of the of the state's death row population tried to use it.

    Only four, all defendants in Fayetteville-area homicides, received hearings before the legislature overturned the law.

    Those four persuaded Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Greg Weeks in 2012 that racism influenced the selection of their juries. Weeks commuted their sentences to life in prison without parole.

    The defendants were Marcus Reymond Robinson, who killed a teen in a robbery; Tilmon Golphin, who with his brother killed a deputy and a state trooper in a traffic stop; Christina S. "Queen" Walters, who led a gang that kidnapped and killed two women; and Quintel Augustine, convicted of murdering a Fayetteville police officer.

    The state Supreme Court in December overturned Weeks' decisions and ordered new hearings for the four defendants.

    The court said Weeks should have given the prosecutors more opportunity to prepare their response to the defendants' evidence. The evidence included a detailed statistical study of 20 years of jury selection in capital cases.

    The Supreme Court said Weeks should have separated the cases of Augustine, Walters and Golphin, instead of hearing them as a group.

    "No one has said his findings were wrong, just that procedurally there have been problems," said spokeswoman Gerda Stein of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation.

    Her agency has handled much of the Racial Justice Act litigation.

    All four defendants were sent back to death row.

    The Supreme Court ordered Jim Ammons, the senior resident Superior Court judge in Cumberland County, to take over the four cases. But in June, Ammons withdrew after the lawyers for the four death row defendants contended he has biases and conflicts of interest that would prevent him from being fair.

    On Aug. 19, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin assigned retired Superior Court Judge Erwin Spainhour of Cabarrus County, near Charlotte, to take the cases.

    Spainhour, like Weeks before him, is to decide if racism tainted the trials of the four inmates.

    Meanwhile, approximately 140 more death row inmates contend they should get the same opportunity as Robinson, Walters, Golphin and Augustine.

    They argue that once the government grants a right and someone attempts to exercise that right, it's unconstitutional for the government to block the person from using that right, Stein said.

    The question is to be considered by the state Supreme Court for two murder cases from Iredell County, Stein said.

    One of the defendants is Rayford Burke. He is a black man who in 1993 was convicted and sentenced to death by an all-white jury for the shooting death of a police informant, says a summary of the case from Stein's office.

    The other defendant is Andrew Darrin Ramseur, a black man whose jury, too, was all white. He was sentenced to death for killing two white people in a convenience store robbery, Stein's office said.

    The lawyers for the Racial Justice Act defendants say prosecutors for illegal, racist reasons rejected blacks from serving on the juries in these trials.

    http://www.fayobserver.com/news/loca...637fd667b.html
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  3. #23
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    Judge rejects Racial Justice Act claims; 4 inmates stay on death row

    RALEIGH -- A judge this week rejected an effort by four death row inmates to use North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act to avoid execution.

    In a ruling dated Monday and filed this morning in Cumberland County Superior Court, Superior Court Judge Erwin Spainhour said the four convicted murderers can no longer use the Racial Justice Act because it was repealed in 2013.

    The Racial Justice Act, enacted in 2009, allowed inmates try to prove racial bias tainted their trials. If they prevailed, their death sentences would be commuted to live in prison without parole. Most of North Carolina’s 150 inmates on death row pursued Racial Justice Act claims.

    Four inmates from Cumberland County murders won these claims in Cumberland County Superior Court in 2012 and were removed from death row. They were the first and only condemned inmates to do so before the legislature repealed the law in 2013.

    But then the state Supreme Court overturned their cases in 2015 -- a decision that put them back on death row.

    The Supreme Court sent their cases back to Cumberland County for further consideration. There, prosecutors argued that the four inmates could no longer use the Racial Justice Act because it had been repealed.

    The inmates’ lawyers countered that it is unconstitutional to retroactively take the Racial Justice Act away from them. The lawyers said the inmates filed their claims when the law was still on the books and had obtained relief under it.

    Spainhour decided that four inmates’ cases were still pending, and had not reached what is considered to be a final judgment. So with the repeal of the Racial Justice Act they can no longer use it.

    http://www.fayobserver.com/top_news/...a0996dfa7.html
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  4. #24
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    4 Cumberland murderers try again to get off death row

    RALEIGH — Four death row inmates convicted of murders in Cumberland County on Tuesday asked the North Carolina Supreme Court to give them another chance to prove that racism was an illegal factor in their trials.

    Two former judges from the North Carolina Court of Appeals and other lawyers filed briefs on Tuesday to bolster the request.

    The four inmates previously used the now-repealed North Carolina Racial Justice Act to get off death row in 2012. The Racial Justice Act said that if a death row inmate can prove to a judge that racism tainted the conduct of his murder trial, then his death sentence must be commuted to life in prison without parole.

    All four were returned to death row following a December 2015 Supreme Court ruling that overturned their reprieves and sent their cases back to Cumberland County Superior Court.

    Superior Court Judge Erwin Spainhour in January decided that because the Racial Justice Act was repealed in 2013, the inmates may no longer use it to again attempt to get off death row.

    The inmates want the state Supreme Court to reverse that decision.

    Some of the arguments in two of their petitions:

    Spainhour should have held a hearing to consider evidence that there was racial bias in one of the inmate’s trials in 2002.

    • Spainhour violated an inmate’s constitutional rights by retroactively applying the repeal of the Racial Justice Act to his case and refusing to consider his constitutional arguments on this point.

    • The courts have not resolved whether the repeal of the Racial Justice Act was constitutional.

    The repeal appeared intended specifically to punish another one of the inmates, a concept called “bill of attainder,” and that is unconstitutional.

    One of the four is Quentel Augustine. Augustine was sentenced to death in 2002 for the shooting death of Fayetteville Police Officer Roy Turner Jr. in November 2001.

    Augustine’s brief says that Augustine, who is black, was convicted and sentenced to death by an all-white jury, and that the prosecutors’ notes have negative comments such as “wino” and “thug” about some of the black potential jurors who were summoned for but not seated on Augustine’s jury.

    Both Augustine and his victim, Turner, were black.

    Another inmate is Marcus Reymond Robinson. He killed a teen in a robbery in 1991. Robinson was the first person to use the Racial Justice Act to get his death sentence commuted to life in prison without parole. His brief alleges that North Carolina’s lawmakers unconstitutionally targeted him when they repealed the Racial Justice Act.

    The other two inmates are Tilmon Golphin, who with his brother killed a deputy and a state trooper in a traffic stop in 1997; and Christina S. “Queen” Walters, who led a gang that kidnapped and killed two women in 1998.

    The petitions for Golphin and Walters were not available late Tuesday.

    The North Carolina Department of Justice, which has been fighting against the inmates’ Racial Justice Act claims, is reviewing the filings, a spokeswoman said.

    The petitions were backed by “friend of the court” briefs, also called amicus briefs, from former judges, other lawyers and the North Carolina Advocates for Justice lawyer’s organization.

    These include state Sen. Floyd McKissick Jr. of Durham; Cressie Thigpen, who is a former Superior Court judge and former appeals court judge; Charles Becton, who is a former Court of Appeals judge; and Fred Williams, who is a former special Superior Court judge.

    Some of the amicus brief arguments are that the decision to put the inmates back on death row after they were sentenced to life could violate the U.S. constitution’s double-jeopardy prohibition, and that it’s illegal and unconstitutional for lawyers to arbitrarily prevent people from serving on juries because of their race.

    http://www.fayobserver.com/news/2017...-off-death-row
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  5. #25
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    4 inmates on death row seek permanent stays of execution due to racial bias

    By Robert Richardson
    CBS17.com

    RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - Four inmates previously removed from and returned to death row are seeking permanent stays of execution.

    Advocates for Tilmon Golphin, Quintel Augustine, Marcus Robinson, and Christina Walters filed legal briefs with the North Carolina Supreme Court on Monday. All four defendants are on death row following murder convictions in Cumberland County in the 1990s and early 2000s.

    North Carolina legislators passed the Racial Justice Act in 2009, which said that a capital defendant could have their sentence reduced to life in prison without parole if there is evidence proving "that race was a significant factor in decisions to seek or impose the sentence of death in the county, the prosecutorial district, the judicial division, or the State at the time the death sentence was sought or imposed." (N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2010)

    A state Superior Court judge ruled in 2012 that Cumberland County prosecutors intentionally dismissed African-American potential jurors in death penalty cases much more frequently than white jurors. Prosecutor notes from jury selection in the Golphin case described potential jurors with terms such as "black wino," "thug," "country boy okay," and "respectable black family."

    "Being part of a jury in your community is a badge of citizenship, and so when we discriminate against African-Americans, that really undermines our democracy," said Gretchen Engel, director of the Durham-based Center for Death Penalty Litigation.

    The judge who heard arguments on behalf of Golphin, Augustine, Robinson, and Walters deemed their cases to be eligible under the Racial Justice Act. They came off of death row. Walters received her GED during her time in the general prison population.

    The North Carolina legislature repealed the Racial Justice Act in 2013. Two years later, the state Supreme Court vacated the state Superior Court judge's original ruling regarding the four inmates and sent the case back to the Superior Court. The inmates returned to death row.

    "Lo and behold we get back into Superior Court, and at that point, the position shifts, and it's well wait a minute, the statute's been repealed, the courthouse door has been shut, and you are out of luck," Engel said.

    "It's this happened, and oops, there's a technicality, let's send you back to another level of court. Oops, here's another technicality and now we're going to keep you out of court all together," she said.

    "Here we are in a position where these defendants might not be able to ever have those claims really heard by a court, and just simply move forward to execution, and that's not fair, and I think that's why all these groups are up in arms about it."

    A coalition of former prosecutors, including former Virginia Attorney General Mark Earley, is part of the civil rights claims in support of the four inmates. The NAACP, National Association of Public Defenders, North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers, North Carolina Council of Churches, and North Carolina Advocates for Justice, and ACLU Capital Punishment Project are also part of the coalition.

    The inmates are not arguing their innocence. They are instead protesting the punishment and asking for sentences of life imprisonment without parole.

    Tilmon Golphin killed State Trooper Ed Lowry and Cumberland County deputy David Hathcock during a traffic stop on September 23, 1997. Golphin was 19 at the time of the shooting, which also involved his 17-year-old brother Kevin.

    The younger sibling had his death sentence changed to a life sentence in 2005 after the United States Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to issue a death sentence to any defendant who was a juvenile at the time of the crime. In 2012, the Supreme

    Court deemed it unconstitutional to automatically issue a life sentence without parole to a juvenile offender. Inmates in such circumstances could become eligible for parole after 25 years imprisonment, which will be 2022 in Kevin Golphin's case.

    Quintel Augustine shot and killed Fayetteville police officer Roy Turner, Jr. in 2001.

    Marcus Robinson murdered Erik Tornblom on July 21, 1991, after he kidnapped and robbed the 17-year-old. Tornblom, a rising senior at Douglas Byrd High School, was on his way home from work when the 18-year-old Robinson and Roderick Williams asked him for a ride.

    Robinson had an execution date set for January 2007, but a Superior Court Judge stopped all executions in North Carolina. The judge ruled that the Council of State must approve changes to execution procedures.

    Christina Walters was 20 years old when she led gang initiations which involved the random shootings of young women. Two victims, 18-year-old Tracy Lambert and 21-year-old Susan Moore, died from their injuries. Debra Cheeseborough survived and testified at the trials of Walters and other participants.

    Engel said criminals should be punished for their crimes, but pointed to exoneration of some death row inmates who were later found to be innocent as reason to discontinue executions.

    "Life without parole is enough. It's a really harsh punishment, and if we make a mistake we can correct it and we know that. Those trials are quicker. The appeals are quicker," she said.

    "I'm not sure what the extra benefit we get is, as society, from the death penalty."

    https://www.cbs17.com/news/local-new...ias/1308357362
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  6. #26
    Senior Member CnCP Legend Mike's Avatar
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    Six Death Row prisoners in North Carolina to get new day in court

    By Josh Shaffer
    NewsObserver

    In 2002, Quintel Augustine went on trial accused of murdering a Fayetteville police officer — a notorious case that forced prosecutors to pick a jury in Brunswick County, 90 miles away.

    Augustine was 25 but had already served two terms in prison.

    The officer, Roy Gene Turner Jr., was a five-year veteran of the Fayetteville force, who left behind a fiancee and a 6-month-old child.

    But another distinction has kept the case in dispute ever since: Augustine was black, and the officer, like every member of the jury that handed down the death penalty, was white.

    Court filings argue that Cumberland County prosecutors improperly used race as a primary factor in choosing Augstine’s jurors. In one case, a potential juror was described in handwritten notes as a “black wino,” and then rejected. Notes for a white juror, who was accepted, read “drinks — country boy — OK.”

    Next week, the N.C. Supreme Court will consider whether Augustine and three others on Death Row should should have their sentences reduced to life in prison.

    This reprieve had already been granted to all four of them under the state’s Racial Justice Act, which let prisoners seek relief when they could show racial prejudice in jury selection. But their death sentences were restored when the legislature repealed the law in 2013.

    Two more Death Row defendants will argue that their cases were tainted by the same racial bias the courts have already found with the other four defendants, and they are requesting a hearing to present that evidence.

    Their advocates argue the Supreme Court has the chance to restore a tool created to root out widespread prejudice in the legal system dating back more than a century.

    Death Row debate

    In 2009, when the Racial Justice Act was passed, the minority population in North Carolina had reached 34 percent, according to the nonprofit Center for Death Penalty Litigation. But of the 142 prisoners on Death Row, nearly half were convicted by juries with no minority representation.

    A 1986 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Batson v. Kentucky, forbid prosecutors from rejecting jurors on the basis of race alone. But researchers at Michigan State University found in a 2012 study of North Carolina death-penalty trials that black jurors were 2.5 times more likely to be struck.

    Critics of the law called it so broad that it created a loophole for any defendant given capital punishment. When he signed its repeal in 2013, Gov. Pat McCrory said, “Nearly every person on death row, regardless of race, has appealed their death sentence under the Racial Justice Act,” according to the Associated Press.

    But its defenders at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation cite “a mountain” of evidence that already shows decades of bias, and overturning the law serves as a means for ignoring it.

    “Whether you look at it from a legal perspective or a common-sense perspective, it doesn’t make much sense to say we’re going to create this mechanism to see if there’s racial bias, we’re going to find all this evidence and then we’re going to repeal the law,” said David Weiss, attorney with the center.

    Only four people had sentences reduced under the act before its repeal: Tilmon Golphin, Christina Walters, Marcus Robinson and Augustine — all of them convicted of murder in Cumberland County. The other two seeking the same chance: Andrew Ramseur and Rayford Burke, both from Iredell County.

    Their attorneys come from the center, the ACLU, the NAACP, the state appellate defender’s office and private practice. N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein’s office will handle the case for the state. A spokeswoman for Stein’s office declined to comment on active litigation.

    Black jurors rejected

    In Ramseur’s case, a black 21-year-old defendant got the death sentence from an all-white jury. All of the qualified black jurors were rejected, his attorney Daniel Shatz wrote in a 2016 brief.

    During his 2010 trial in Statesville, four rows of courtroom seats were cordoned off with crime-scene tape, forcing his family to sit in the back, Shatz wrote. Racially charged comments appeared on a local newspaper website, including “He should be hanging from the nearest traffic light as a warning to the rest.” The court declined to change the trial location or allow a Racial Justice Act review.

    Walters, one of the few women on the state’s Death Row, was sentenced to death in 2000 for her part in a series of gang-related murders in Fayetteville. During her trial, prosecutors rejected 10 out of 14 qualified black jurors and four of 27 whites, wrote center attorney Shelagh Kenney in her brief.

    One black woman was struck, Kenney wrote, because her brother had been convicted on an unrelated gun charge. The woman told prosecutors that she and her brother were not close and his criminal record would not affect her jury service. At the same time, a non-black juror was chosen despite having a brother jailed on a murder charge and writing him regular letters.

    In Robinson’s case, the prosecutor asked a potential black juror if he had graduated from high school or had trouble reading — questions not asked of any others, wrote ACLU attorney Cassandra Stubbs in a 2018 brief. Half the black jurors were rejected compared to 14 percent from other groups.

    Robinson was the first to be granted relief under the act.

    “Never before has any legislature enacted a statute designed to remedy suspected systemic racial bias in capital sentencing,” Stubbs wrote, “only to repeal such a statute when the racial bias was found.”

    Read more here: https://www.newsobserver.com/news/lo...#storylink=cpy
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  7. #27
    Administrator Helen's Avatar
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    3 North Carolina death row inmates to serve life in prison

    Associated Press

    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) North Carolinas Supreme Court has ruled that three death row inmates will have their sentences reduced to life in prison.

    The three prisoners previously got their death penalty sentences reduced through the now-defunct Racial Justice Act.

    Christina Walters, Tilmon Golphin and Quintel Augustine had previously been put on death row, until getting their sentences reduce to life in prison through a 2009 law that was later overhauled.

    The courts ruling paves the way for other death row inmates to receive life sentences if they applied for the reduction at the time the RJA was still in effect.

    https://myfox8.com/news/3-north-caro...ife-in-prison/
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    - Rev. Richard Hawke

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  8. #28
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    Death sentence vacated. Resentenced to life without parole on 10/15/20.

    https://www.ncdps.gov/our-organizati...oved-death-row
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