Local News

Durham Judge Grants Stay Of Execution For Carter

Posted December 4, 2002 5:40 a.m. EST

— A judge issued a stay of execution for Desmond Carter on Wednesday, less than a week before Carter was scheduled to die for the murder of an elderly neighbor in Rockingham.

Durham Superior Court judge Orlando Hudson ordered that a hearing be held on claims that include racial bias and incompetent counsel at Carter's original trial.

Hudson issued his order from the bench before sending courtroom participants home about 3 p.m., due to a winter storm.

Carter, 35, was scheduled to be executed at 2 a.m. Tuesday for the March 1992 slaying of his neighbor, 71-year-old Helen Purdy of Eden.

The petition to stop the execution alleged racial bias, incompetent defense lawyers and the effects of partisan judicial elections as reasons to stop the execution.

The racial bias claim contended that Carter, who is black, was at a disadvantage because his victim was white.

The petition also said the execution should be stopped because prosecutors at the time didn't have the option of seeking life in prison for a first-degree murder case.

Another point was that the prosecution shouldn't have used a standard indictment that doesn't specify details of a charge.

Hudson dismissed other claims relating to elected judges and prosecutor discretion.

Lawyers for the state said they would need until January to prepare for the hearing.

Carter also received 40 years for robbery with a dangerous weapon for taking $15 from Purdy.

Lawyers have said Carter was intoxicated on alcohol, crack cocaine and tranquilizers when he stabbed Purdy.

Gov. Mike Easley's office said a scheduled clemency hearing for Carter will proceed on Thursday.