Local News

Supreme Court Ruling May Take Four N.C. Killers Off Death Row

Posted March 1, 2005 6:20 a.m. EST

— Four men who were 17 years old when they committed murder will be removed from North Carolina's death row following Tuesday's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that it is unconstitutional to execute underage killers.

In North Carolina, one of the men affected is among the state's most notorious killers. Kevin Golphin, who is now 25, was convicted in the 1997 murder of state Highway Patrol Trooper Ed Lowery and Deputy David Hathcock. Golphin's brother, Tilmon, was also convicted for the crime.

Golphin and the other three affected by the ruling -- Travis Walters, Thomas Mark Adams and Lamorris Chapman -- were each 17 years old when they committed the crimes that landed them on death row. Three of the four are now in their 20s and one is 34.

Dixie Davis, Lowery's widow, said she does not agree with the Supreme Court's ruling.

"If I could talk to them, I'd let them know that, 'Have you ever been a victim? Have you ever had someone in your family killed? Has anyone taken away a brother, a father, a child,'" she said.

Department of Correction spokeswoman Pamela Walker said all four will be shifted to other custody once the state receives paperwork detailing the Supreme Court's ruling.

Walker said their lawyers also must file motions seeking to have their death sentences overturned, citing the Supreme Court ruling.

The new terms of custody and their sentences, including whether they will be eligible for parole, will depend on a variety of factors, including when they were convicted.

Tuesday's ruling involved a Missouri case and affects about 70 cases in 19 states that allow the execution of people whose crimes were committed when they were under age 18.