More requests for Wilmington 10 pardons to be sent to Perdue
Posted December 27, 2012
RALEIGH, N.C. — Surviving members of the Wilmington 10 are making another trip to Raleigh to present to North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue more names of people who want her to declare them formally innocent.
A group backing their pardons planned Thursday to present more than 130,000 petition names from an Internet-based campaign to a Perdue representative. Benjamin Chavis and three other living Wilmington 10 members were expected to participate.
Pardon backers gave Perdue's office 14,000 names earlier. She could rule on the requests before she leaves office Jan. 5.
Nine black men and one white woman were convicted in 1972 in the firebombing of a Wilmington grocery that occurred after the police shooting of a black teenager.
Three key witnesses in the case later recanted their testimony, and all 10 people were freed in 1980 when the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., threw out the convictions, saying perjury and prosecutorial misconduct were factors in the verdicts.
The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP recently said newly discovered notes by the prosecutor in the Wilmington 10 case show he engaged in racial profiling to select a jury that would be more favorable for a conviction.
State NAACP President Rev. William Barber said notes taken by former Pender County prosecutor Jay Stroud show he lied to a judge to get a mistrial so he could pick another jury in the case. He then used a race-based strategy during jury selection.
The notes in Stroud's handwriting show "KKK? (good)" next to the names of potential white jurors, and a black member of the jury pool was referred to as an "Uncle Tom." Stroud used his challenges to remove blacks from the jury pool, Barber said.
Although the convictions were overturned, the state never cleared the activists' records.