Hunt Receives Stay Of Execution By N.C. Supreme Court
Posted January 22, 2003 3:51 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina Supreme Court has stayed the execution of Henry Lee Hunt, deciding to hear arguments in April about whether the indictment form used in his murder trial violates the U.S. constitution.
Hunt, 58, was scheduled to die at 2 a.m. Friday. He is a Lumbee Indian and would be the first American Indian executed in North Carolina since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977.
Christie Cameron, a spokeswoman for the state Supreme Court, said the court stayed the execution because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in an Arizona case that struck down the use of short-form indictments, which don't list reasons for a murder charge.
The state Supreme Court has ruled the indictments legal several times based on the North Carolina constitution, Cameron said.
Hunt has proclaimed his innocence in the killings. And his attorney said another man, now dead, confessed to the crimes.
Gov. Mike Easley heard clemency arguments in the case Tuesday and was expected to issue a decision later this week.
Jurors convicted Hunt in the murder of Jackie Ransom, whose wife paid to have him killed to make her second marriage legal. He also was convicted of killing Larry Jones, a police informant.
Four other people were sentenced to prison for participating in the killings. They include Dorothy Locklear, Ransom's wife, and Rogers Locklear, Dorothy Locklear's second husband. They served less than five years each for conspiracy to commit murder.
A.R. Barnes, who the state said recruited Hunt to help with the killing, served less than eight years. Elwell Barnes, sentenced to death in Jones' homicide, died in prison.