Local News

Former death-row inmate rebuilds life outside of prison

Posted April 1, 2009

— Glen Edward Chapman's nightmare ended a year ago Thursday, and he said he has spent every day since then in a dream.

Chapman was sentenced to death for two 1992 murders, but he walked out of prison on April 2, 2008, a free man after Catawba County authorities dropped all charges against him.

Glen Edward Chapman, former death row inmate Web only: Ex-inmate speaks year after release

Chapman was convicted in 1994 of the murders of Betty Jean Ramseur and Tenene Yvette Conley in Hickory. A judge granted him a new trial in late 2007 after learning that detectives in the case had withheld and covered up evidence that pointed to Chapman's innocence and that one investigator had perjured himself at Chapman’s original trial.

After his release from death row, Chapman said, he began to appreciate little things like listening to birds outside, opening doors and getting his own food.

"I feel like I already hit the lottery," Chapman said Wednesday.

He has moved to Asheville, where he rents a home and works at a hotel.

"It was important to me to prove something to myself, that I can adapt," he said.

An admitted drug addict and alcoholic when he went into prison, Chapman said he's now a better man. Even after losing 15 years of his life, he said, he isn't bitter.

"I can forgive. Does it mean I have to forget? No, but I can use that as a lesson to teach someone else," he said.

Chapman spends part of his time traveling across North Carolina to speak about his case and exoneration. He said he wants to shed light on a flawed justice system he believes has wronged many other people.

Life outside prison does have its problems, he said, noting he anxiously awaited a $98 state income tax refund only to learn that officials planned to apply it toward court costs from the wrongful conviction.

"They can keep the $98 as far as I'm concerned," he said.

Hickory police haven't named another suspect in the 1992 murder case, but Chapman maintains his innocence.

His supporters plan to file for an official pardon this week, and if granted, he could receive $40,000 from the state for each year he spent in prison.

"I can't control the future, but I can control me. I can control my actions," he said.


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  • incensed Apr 2, 2009

    I don't see any bleeding hearts here fatcat11. You must have different information from what this article states. Would you care to give us the real story? Not being sarcastic, but if the newspaper article is incorrect, people have a right to know, don't you agree?

  • fatcat11 Apr 2, 2009

    Just because they set him free doesn't mean he's innocent.Do some research and you will find they had a pretty strong case against him without the shenanigans the police pulled.

    All you bleeding hearts better hope he doesn't kill someone you love,next time...

  • incensed Apr 2, 2009

    What has happened to those investigators that were the cause of him being convicted? People should be outraged at them. I've not read anything about them being brought to justice for stealing years of Mr. Chapman's life. And the state is keeping $98 of this man's money for court costs???? What is wrong with this picture? I hope the state has to compensate him for ruining his life. $40,000 for each year he was imprisoned doesn't seem like enough to me. Whose to say he wouldn't have made $100,000 a year if he could have held down a job instead of being cooped up behind prison walls. No way can they make up for what has been done to this man, but a huge amount of money would help my feelings about what has happened. Again, where are those detectives whose testimonies convicted him? I'd like to see them put to work for 15 yrs on a chain gang, if they truly are responsible for this man's unjust incarceration.

    Chapman isn't bitter? Well, he's a better person than I am.

  • jurydoc Apr 2, 2009

    wp - a few? I don't know what you consider a few or too many, but there have been 130 exonerees just since 1973. That sounds like a LOT of mistakes to me.

  • chfdcpt Apr 2, 2009

    Lightfoot3, I am with you. Those officers should be made to serve every day in prison that he did. After all, they withheld evidence that could have proven his innocence. I am pretty sure that if we send a few officers and da's to prison for false sentencing, we will see these issues drop like the proverbial lead brick.

    As for the pardon, that should be automatic. The courts ruled that he had been was wrongly convicted. The sad part is that the prosecuting office can file against the pardon. On the other hand, does the state have the $560,000 if he gets pardoned?

  • wp Apr 2, 2009

    Too bad a few always make the system look so bad.

  • happymom Apr 2, 2009

    "Collateral Damage!" This is an innocent man's life. It wouldn't feel so "collateral" if you were the one scheduled to die. It would be murder, and our government should not in the business of murdering people.

    THIS is the reason I don't support the death penalty. A sentence carried out can not be reversed if the person is later found to be innocent.

  • 4lilboys Apr 2, 2009

    "Life outside prison does have its problems, he said, noting he anxiously awaited a $98 state income tax refund only to learn that officials planned to apply it toward court costs from the wrongful conviction." Officials keep it h*ll! That is his money. He earned it the correct way. Why should he have to pay for court costs when IT WAS NOT HIS FAULT THEY DID NOT GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME... $98 may not be a lot to a typical person but I am sure it is to someone like him. The state should have to eat it or make the detectives pay for it since they are the ones that withheld evidence in the first trial that caused the second.

  • jurydoc Apr 2, 2009

    And I'm certain you would hardly be so cavalier about referring to this as "collateral damage" if it was you or someone you loved.

  • jurydoc Apr 2, 2009

    DeathRow - you couldn't be MORE mistaken. This was NOT a case where there wasn't the technology in place at the time. It was a case of PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT. This happens more often than any lay person outside the system would like to believe. It was only recently that NC passed legislation requiring the prosecution to turn over ALL evidence, not just what it deemed to be "exculpatory." That was the previous law -- the PROSECUTION got to determine what evidence it had that had potential exculpatory value.
    As to the technology issue, DNA is not present in the vast majority of criminal cases, including murder cases. It is not the be all and end all of criminal prosecutions. As long as there are human beings controlling the system, there will be mistakes -- honest ones and dishonest ones. Precisely the reason there should be NO DEATH PENALTY!