Local News

Carter's Lawyers Lose Appeal For Stay Of Tuesday's Execution

Posted December 9, 2002 7:10 a.m. EST

— A condemned murderer visited family members Monday as he waited to see if an appeal to the governor would stop his execution scheduled for 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Earlier Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied an appeal.

Desmond Keith Carter, 35, was to be executed by injection for the stabbing death of an elderly neighbor who refused him money to buy drugs.

He was moved Sunday from death row to the isolated death watch area across the hall from the execution chamber.

As he prepared for execution, Carter's lawyers appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging a state Supreme Court rejection of a stay that was issued last week by a lower court judge. The Supreme Court rejected the request without comment.

Lawyers for the state prepared to argue against another defense appeal to the nation's high court after the first one was rejected.

Defense lawyers were appealing on the grounds that a Bible was used during jury deliberations.

Defense lawyers last week pleaded with Gov. Mike Easley to grant executive clemency and change the death sentence to life in prison without parole.

In the high-court appeal, the defense asked for review of Carter's case on three issues: racial bias in the death penalty, lack of prosecutorial discretion to seek a life in prison sentence for first-degree murder and the state's indictment form that doesn't list all factors against a defendant.

Carter's lawyers said the death sentence was flawed by racial bias because his victim was white and Carter is black. Prosecutors have in recent years had the option of seeking a life sentence since the Legislature changed the law.

In addition to the death penalty at his 1993 trial, Carter received 40 years for robbery with a dangerous weapon for taking $15 from 71-year-old Helen Purdy.

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

"The evidence at trial showed that Mrs. Purdy had been brutally stabbed or cut with a butcher knife at least 13 times, and that Carter eventually confessed to the murder and robbery," said the state's brief opposing the defense appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Department of Correction spokesman Keith Acree said Carter visited his father, brother, daughter, grandmother and aunt in addition to defense lawyer Bill Osteen.

Carter told Warden R.C. Lee of Central Prison in Raleigh, where the execution was scheduled, that he didn't want anything special for a last meal.

Carter had two cheeseburgers, a steak sub and two Cokes from the canteen for his last meal, said Pam Walker, a corrections department spokeswoman.

Carter would be the 23rd person executed in North Carolina since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977. The last execution was last Friday, when Ernest Basden was put to death for the 1992 murder-for-hire of a Kinston insurance agent.