State News

Court cites double jeopardy in vacating Raleigh murder conviction

Posted May 15, 2018 4:34 p.m. EDT
Updated May 15, 2018 11:57 p.m. EDT

James Harold Courtney III

— North Carolina judges have vacated a second-degree murder conviction after finding that prosecutors violated double-jeopardy principles when they tried the defendant a second time.

The state Court of Appeals ruling Tuesday throws out the guilty verdict against James Harold Courtney III.

Courtney, now 51, and co-defendant David Moses were arrested on Halloween 2009 in the death of James Carol Deberry Jr. Deberry, 32, was found shot inside his apartment in the 5900 block of Shadetree Lane in Raleigh and died at WakeMed.

Courtney's first trial ended with a deadlocked jury and mistrial. Prosecutors later dismissed the murder charge, citing the hung jury.

However, Courtney was indicted again in 2015 and convicted based on new evidence. He was sentenced to 18 to 22 years in prison in the shooting that authorities say was drug-related.

The appeals court said that, while a defendant can be retried after a mistrial, the prosecutor's dismissal of the charge after Courtney's first trial was binding and conclusive.