Local News

Review of Deputy's Work Sought in Death Row Case

Posted April 3, 2008

— The Burke County sheriff has asked state investigators to review the actions of a deputy accused of lying and withholding evidence in the case of a man freed from death row.

Sheriff John McDevitt said Thursday that he has placed Sgt. Dennis Rhoney, a Burke deputy since 2003, on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a State Bureau of Investigation probe into perjury and obstruction of justice allegations.

A former detective in Catawba County, Rhoney is accused of lying during the 1994 murder trial of Glen Edward Chapman. Based in part on Rhoney's actions, Chapman was granted a new trial last year after spending more than a decade on death row.

Prosecutors dropped the case Wednesday, and Chapman walked out of Raleigh's Central Prison a free man.

McDevitt said he knew about the allegations, but didn't want to end Rhoney's career without a thorough outside review.

Chapman's attorneys said their client's case is an example of why the cases of all death row inmates should be reviewed and that his freedom would not have been possible without major legal reforms.

"There have been uncovered many, many instances of wrongdoing on the part of prosecution and police to obtain convictions and death sentences," said Mary Ann Tally, with the Center for Death Penalty Litigation.

In 1996, open-discovery law gave defense attorneys in North Carolina full access to investigators' and prosecutors' files when challenging a capital conviction. In 2001, it became required before trial.

"The problem is, there are 130-plus people on death row in North Carolina who did not have the benefit of these reforms," said Dick Taylor, director of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers.

The academy wants the state to speed up the review process for death row inmates.


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  • southern wisdom Apr 4, 2008

    The problem with this trial is universal. The judge sees the law officer every couple of weeks in court. The judge sees most defendants once in a lifetime. Who is he going to believe. And even though this was a jury trial all of us who sat on a jury know the Judge can sway a juries opinion by the way the trial is orchestrated.

  • oldrebel Apr 4, 2008

    This shows the difference between one saying "I support Law Enforcement" and one saying "I support the Law." Sometimes the two are totally different animals.

  • Tax Man Apr 3, 2008

    Hey, I fully support law enforcement, but if a cop lies, even to get a misdemeanor conviction, then that liar needs to go to prison for the maximum sentence for perjury - if you can't be honest, don't go into law enforcement. They must set the standard for pure honesty, and if they botch it they should be fired, imprisoned and never allowed to work in law enforcement again. Same goes for lawyers and judges - probation officers too. Don't be lying - there is no reason to.

  • Tater Salad Apr 3, 2008

    mugofstout2 - sounds like you and Sgt. Dennis Rhoney have something in common

  • mrkagain Apr 3, 2008

    "How many people on this board think the ends justify the means?"

    You do, apparently. It's okay to convict a man without evidence, just so you can put him in prison. By that reasoning, I could rob a bank to pay my bills, because afterall, the ends would justify the means.

    You have the logic of an idiot.

  • MajorLeagueinfidel Apr 3, 2008

    Inter Alios...agree completely...if this Deputy did this and an investigation outside of the Judges comments and opinion in court...he should go to prison.....

  • sportie Apr 3, 2008

    I can't believe that ther are people here that are still convicting this man after it was found out he didn't commit the crime. It clearly states that she only had consensual sex with this gentleman sometime prior to the murder. She was seen with someone else after she was with him, a few days later. It is written that the deputy knew this, and never told anyone. Just because he had a record does not mean that he committed the crime. It is obvious that this man will never have a fair chance at life.

  • mugofstout2 Apr 3, 2008

    How many people on this board think the ends justify the means?

  • nathanius Apr 3, 2008

    How many people on this message board think that this is the only time this former detective/deputy lied in court?

  • ghwhitaker1_old Apr 3, 2008

    majorleagueinfidel: I agree. The deputy should be given a fair trial and then thrown in prison.