Local News

Ex-Klan Leader Found Incompetent for Trial

Posted December 6, 2007 4:19 p.m. EST

— A former Ku Klux Klan leader has been deemed incompetent to stand trial in connection with a 2003 homicide, authorities said Thursday.

Charles Barefoot Jr., a former grand dragon of the North Carolina chapter of The National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, is one of four people accused of killing Lawrence Arthur Pettit, whose decomposed body was found in a field near Clinton in 2003.

A competency hearing was conducted this week in Superior Court in Sampson County, and authorities adopted the findings of a recent federal court order concerning Barefoot's mental state, Sampson County District Attorney G. Dewey Hudson said.

The federal court order said Barefoot "is not competent to stand trial because he currently does not possess a rational understanding of the proceedings against him, does not have the capacity to assist legal counsel in his defense, and he cannot rationally make decisions regarding legal strategy.”

Barefoot remains in federal custody on explosives charges in connection with an arsenal of weapons found in his car and his home near Benson in July 2002. Authorities said he might have been behind threats to blow up the Johnston County courthouse.

If he is ruled incompetent in future hearings, Barefoot could be committed indefinitely to Dorothea Dix Hospital, Hudson said.