Local News

Easley Denies Clemency For Chandler

Posted November 11, 2004

— Gov. Mike Easley has denied a request to spare Frank Ray Chandler, who stands to be executed Friday morning in Raleigh's Central Prison.

Easley has just rejected a clemency request for Chandler, who was condemned for killing an elderly woman during a robbery 12 years ago. Easley said he found no compelling reason to change the sentence handed down at Chandler's trial.

Chandler, 32, was convicted by a jury in the Dec. 11, 1992, death of Doris Poore, 90, who lived alone in Mount Airy and whose body was found the following day by a housekeeper.

Chandler's fingerprints were found in the house and he was arrested less than a month later.

He testified at his trial that he broke in looking for marijuana and thought the house was the dwelling of drug users.

State Supreme Court Justice Robert Orr, a death penalty supporter, has been a unexpected champion of efforts to stop Chandler's execution.

Orr, who stepped down from the court in July, has urged Easley to stop the execution on the grounds that Chandler's death sentence was legally unfounded.

"There are some cases that merit the death penalty. I don't think this is one of them," Orr said.

Chandler's jury agreed with prosecutors that he killed Poore "for pecuniary gain" during his attempted theft. The felony burglary was the "aggravating factor" that made Chandler eligible for the death penalty.

Orr contends that Chandler shouldn't be executed since he didn't kill Poore for money. Chandler killed Poore by swinging his hand and hitting her head when she startled him by screaming in the dark. Poore died as a result of her head injury.

"Mrs. Poore's death is a tragedy, and the circumstances surrounding it are egregious and disturbing," Orr wrote in a dissenting opinion in 1996 while he was on the state Supreme Court.

None of the other six Supreme Court justices agreed with Orr.

He made the same argument to Easley, a Democrat and former district attorney, during a Nov. 3 meeting.

"I think the whole pecuniary gain aggravator has been stretched well beyond the intent of the law," Orr said Wednesday. "This case stretched it even farther."

Mount Airy police Maj. Gray Shelton, who helped investigated the slaying, was scheduled to be a witness at Chandler's execution. He said the community was outraged by Poore's death.

Poore's daughter, Lucy Browne, said her mother couldn't drive but took frequent trips with friends and was active in church and senior citizen organizations.

"She was such a nice lady," said Poore's son-in-law John Browne. "Everybody knew her."

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