State News

Judge hears three NC Racial Justice Act cases

Posted October 1, 2012

— Hearings began Monday to determine whether three people convicted of some of North Carolina's most notorious killings can be taken off death row under the Racial Justice Act.

The inmates want their death sentences lessened to life in prison under the act, which allows appeals if it can be proved that racial bias was a factor in their sentencing.

The inmates are Tilmon Golphin, a 34-year-old black man; Quintel Augustine, a 34-year-old black man; and Christina Walters, a 33-year-old American Indian woman.

Golphin killed a state trooper and a sheriff's deputy, and Augustine murdered a police officer. Walters killed two women in a gang-initiation ritual.

In opening statements Monday, defense attorneys told Superior Court Judge Greg Weeks that race was a significant factor in jury selection.

Judge hears three NC Racial Justice Act cases Judge hears three NC Racial Justice Act cases

The landmark 2009 law allowed death row prisoners to use statistics to show that racial bias influenced their sentences, but the Republican-led General Assembly overrode Gov. Beverly Perdue's veto this summer to roll back much of the law. Now, statistics alone aren't enough to have a death sentence commuted, and the inmate must also introduce evidence pertinent to his or her case.

Regardless of the revised Racial Justice Act, the statistics are "still powerful, still persuasive (and) still overwhelming," said defense attorney James Ferguson. "We don't have statistics alone. We have history. We have anecdotes. We have the record of the trial. We have the showing of the implicit bias."

In Augustine's case, defense lawyers contended that black potential jurors were struck four times more than non-blacks, according to statistics compiled by Michigan State law professor Barbara O'Brien.

Prosecutor Rob Thompson argued that O'Brien never interviewed any of the judges or prosecutors to question what non-racial factors might have been involved in dismissing jurors.

"What O'Brien did with this study is (compared to) listening to a radio (broadcast) of the game and telling the refs whether they're doing a good enough job. She is that far removed from the facts of the courtroom," Thompson said.

Victims' family members were also present for the hearings Monday, including Dixie Davis, whose husband Ed Lowery was shot to death by Golphin during a traffic stop in 1997.

"This is a slap in the face to all law enforcement officers everywhere who put on the uniform every day, because what's the use? You're never going to get a perfect jury," she said.

This week's hearing marks the second test of the state's controversial law that was heavily revised this summer by the legislature. Earlier this year, Marcus Reymond Robinson became the first prisoner removed from death row under the law.

61 Comments

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  • fayncmike Oct 3, 12:50 p.m.

    "Too late. Your comments lend themselves to a resemblance of the very ones you choose to protect. Bartmeister"

    http://www.societyforqualityeducation.org/media/MediaReleaseFeb15-06.html
    piene2"

    I wish I had thought of posting that! It's so perfect.

  • Country Girlz Have MORE fun Oct 3, 10:06 a.m.

    Let me get this straight...These inmates broke the law by murdering people. They think they should be taken off death row because of their color? They are asking the courts to be kind to them and review their convictions because they don't think they were treated fair? Were their victims treated fair? No ! BACK YOU GO TO DEATH ROW !

  • piene2 Oct 2, 5:55 p.m.

    "Too late. Your comments lend themselves to a resemblance of the very ones you choose to protect.
    Bartmeister"

    http://www.societyforqualityeducation.org/media/MediaReleaseFeb15-06.html

  • Bartmeister Oct 2, 5:34 p.m.

    Thanks jurydoc. I remember the chase on I95 and finally the capture. They were immediately put in Central Prison for protection. Then they dropped off the map.

  • jurydoc Oct 2, 5:25 p.m.

    Bart -- The other Golphin brother was under 18 at the time of the commission of the crime. His death sentence was already commuted to live without parole based on SCOTUS decision Roper v. Simmons (2005).

  • Bartmeister Oct 2, 5:10 p.m.

    What happened to the other Golphin brother? There were 2 involved.

  • Bartmeister Oct 2, 5:03 p.m.

    I have no desire to become the social and intellectual equal of such trash as those people.
    piene2

    ====================

    Too late. Your comments lend themselves to a resemblance of the very ones you choose to protect.

  • piene2 Oct 2, 3:22 p.m.

    "Here are the facts... 1: They maliciously killed people..2: They were undenieably convicted of killing those people in a court of law... 3: These hearings are not about whether they killed someone or not... All these statements are true therefore they deserve the sentence they got!!!
    torchhappysean"

    So, even forgetting all about the possibility of a wrong conviction you think it is just fine and dandy to lower yourself to the level of the criminals? That might be acceptable to you but it never will be to me. I have no desire to become the social and intellectual equal of such trash as those people.

  • 68_dodge_polara Oct 2, 1:22 p.m.

    Being against the death penalty I'm still apposed to this law as it seeks to ban the death penalty by bankrupting the state in to no longer pursuing the death penalty. Why didn't did Floyd Mckissick just sponsor a law that bans the death penalty out right? Because he's a lawyer, and lawyers are making millions from the state because of this law.

  • torchhappysean Oct 2, 1:03 p.m.

    Here are the facts... 1: They maliciously killed people..2: They were undenieably convicted of killing those people in a court of law... 3: These hearings are not about whether they killed someone or not... All these statements are true therefore they deserve the sentence they got!!!

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