Local News

Victims' Grandchildren, Prosecution Witness Seek Clemency For Daniels

Posted November 12, 2003

— In a rather unusual occurrence at the state capitol Wednesday, the grandchildren of a murder victim appealed to Gov. Mike Easley to spare the killer's life.

Also appealing to Easley was a witness who testified for the prosecution at John Daniels' sentencing hearing. Cynthia White said Daniels' life should be spared because her testimony eight years ago was wrong.

Daniels was convicted in September 1990 of killing Isabella Daniels Crawford, his 77-year-old aunt, in Charlotte. He is scheduled to be executed at 2 a.m. Friday.

Daniels also was convicted of assaulting his wife and son with a hammer and attempting to burn his house down.

Daniels' attorneys say he is guilty but does not deserve to die. They claim the penalty phase of his trial was flawed.

White, a psychiatrist, and one of Crawford's nine grandchildren met with Easley at a clemency hearing Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, Crawford's family has issued

a statement asking for Daniels' clemency

, saying that executing Daniels "cuts against all that Ms. Crawford lived by and taught others."

White told Easley that she did not have all the information she needed to be able to accurately testify at Daniels' sentencing hearing. She also said she was not able to interview Daniels before she took the stand.

"I told the governor that my testimony was inaccurate and in error, based on the information that had been handed to me by the prosecution at the time of the penalty phase of the hearing," White said Wednesday.

Earlier this week, a judge denied Daniels' appeal for clemency based on this new evidence. The judge asked why it took eight years for White to come forward and recant her testimony.

Defense attorneys said it took that long for them to find White; they only found her two weeks ago.

During the penalty phase of Daniels' trial, White testified that Daniels was not influenced by alcohol or cocaine when he killed Crawford and that he showed no remorse for Crawford's death.

White also told jurors that it was not a real suicide attempt when Daniels later tied a cord around his neck in front of police officers.

White said Wednesday that all that testimony is untrue.

Mecklenburg County District Attorney Marsha Goodenow also met with Easley. She said the governor asked very intelligent questions.

The defense team has appealed the sentence to the Supreme Court, which has yet to rule. Should the court deny the appeal, Easley would represent Daniels' last hope for clemency.


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