Local News

Convicted child killer seeks new trial

Posted May 10, 2010

— A Wayne County man's mental problems contributed to his being sentenced to die for the 2002 slaying of a 5-year-old girl, an attorney argued to the state Supreme Court on Monday.

Ann Petersen said Eric Glenn Lane, 38, should be given a new trial because he never should have been allowed to represent himself during his murder trial five years ago. The Supreme Court is expected to rule in the case within three months.

Court Gavel Scales of Justice High court hears convicted killer's appeal

Lane was convicted in July 2005 of kidnapping and killing his neighbor, Precious Whitfield, in May 2002. The young girl was last seen riding her bike outside her grandmother's house, and her body and the bike were found two days later in a creek about seven miles away.

Jurors deliberated only 50 minutes before handing down the death sentence. Lane didn't present any evidence on his behalf during the sentencing phase of the trial.

Petersen said such a legal blunder was an example of why the trial judge erred in letting Lane represent himself at trial. The eighth-grade dropout couldn't read or write, which precluded him from reviewing evidence in the case, and he had short-term memory problems, which made it difficult to cross-examine witnesses, she argued.

Lane also suffers from a personality disorder and an anxiety disorder, she said.

"He was not acting with a reasonable degree of rational thinking," she said.

Assistant Attorney General Derrick Mertz said the judge applied the correct standard in finding Lane competent to represent himself.

Lane had lived on his own for 16 years, held down a job, got married and cared for a child, Mertz said, noting such activities show Lane had a degree of intelligence. Lane also told the trial judge and prosecutors that he wanted to represent himself because he disagreed with the way his attorneys planned to handle his case, Mertz said.

"The court itself had interacted with the defendant for months and had before it ample evidence the defendant was capable of proceeding," he said.

Petersen responded that Lane might have had the skills to handle daily life, but he didn't have the skills needed to handle a capital murder trial.

"He couldn't take notes. He couldn't listen to testimony of a witness and remember what that witness said so he could cross-examine them. He couldn't read discovery. He couldn't do anything," she said.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • gpcatgirl May 11, 2010

    I know I too like everyone on here would love to see this guy 6 ft under. Even though it is really not our place to punish him God will do that. I believe that killing him would be too easy on him he should have to suffer like that poor little girl did. I really don't think he could suffer enough.

  • 2beachy4u May 11, 2010

    No, he is not stupid...he's actually very smart. How many "normal" people would pull a stunt like this so down the road they could turn around and try to get the sentence reversed and end up getting off the hook sooner or later? He knew what he was doing. I have read many comments on here and I think they should have "done him in" before now. 8 years on death row? WTH?

  • ladyblue May 11, 2010

    There should never be a capital case trial when the defense has no legal counsel. ridiculous to even proceed in the first place. These trails are not done for free and this is just wasted money on this incident.

  • Myra May 11, 2010

    Can't a judge order a lawyer to assist a defendant so that this kind of appeal isn't as valid?

    North Carolina obviously needs a new Leader, Head of the Dept of Justice... Atty Gen Roy Cooper has yet to weigh in on Shaniya Davis and the reported story that NC is a Prime Destination for Human Sex Trafficking.

    HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE. So for Heaven's sake, folks, be kind to everyone you meet for everyone is having some kind of problem.

  • Bob3425 May 11, 2010

    What it should read is A Wayne County man's death sentence was carried out and the world has one less child rapist among us. This is not justice but an NC joke.

  • grnpnd7 May 11, 2010

    don't forget he ground out cigarettes on her body.

  • grnpnd7 May 11, 2010

    Oh and one more thing; don't forget he ground out cigarettes on her body.

  • grnpnd7 May 11, 2010

    I remember this all clearly. My church, Patetown Church of God, was the command center during the search for Precious. He didn't even deserve a trial. He should have been hung down by the bridge where he placed her body. I hope there is a special place in hell for him.

  • it sometimes rains May 10, 2010

    The news has been kind with the details of this disgusting man and what he did to that innocent child. If only everyone knew exactly in detail what he did to this child....all I can say is he should not be allowed to live one second longer, the risk to all of us and our children is extreme. Let's not risk another second. There is no punishment great enough, so let's just get on with the well determined death penalty that was sought here. How many years of debate does it take to eliminate this awful predator. There is no question about what he did. I don't care one bit whether he can write it down.

  • this is fdup May 10, 2010

    I am so sick of this five-ten years down the road appeals he should be dead already. I would like to point out he has already lived longer in prison than that little girls whole life. He raped and killed a child!How do you defend that and sleep at night?