Local News

Gell, Hunt Urge N.C. Legislators To Approve Two-Year Moratorium

Posted May 18, 2004

— Darryl Hunt and Alan Gell are asking state lawmakers to pass a two-year suspension of executions in North Carolina.

Gell and Hunt, who was in prison for more than 18 years before he was released in December, are among hundreds of moratorium supporters

lobbying in the Legislative Building

Tuesday.

Gell says he thinks innocent people are on death row and he'd personally like to see a moratorium.

Both men were wrongly convicted of murder, and both have been cleared of charges and freed from prison in the last six months.

Gell, who was on death row before allegations of prosecutorial misconduct surfaced, was acquitted of murder earlier this year after a second trial.

The North Carolina Coalition for a Moratorium and its supporters say the death penalty is not fairly applied and its calling for a two-year suspension.

A survey commissioned by the

North Carolina Council of Churches

shows that 63 percent of those polled back a two-year moratorium while the state studies the fairness of capital punishment. Twenty-eight percent opposed the moratorium.

The survey, developed by a New Jersey-based nonpartisan research firm, also found that the margin widened when people polled heard arguments for the moratorium.

The same poll also found that a majority -- 59 percent -- actually support the use of the death penalty in North Carolina.

Greensboro attorney Marshall Hurley says the numbers show that respondents have problems with how the death penalty is carried out.

"We're not here today to discuss an end to the death penalty -- that is not our mission. Our mission today is in a few simple words to call a time out," he said.

The state Senate voted last year for a temporary halt to executions, but House co-speakers say it is unlikely that the bill will be taken up during the short session.

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