Death Penalty Opponents Found Guilty Of Trespassing
Posted June 20, 2006 9:51 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — Ten death penalty opponents accused of blocking the entrance to Central Prison during two executions earlier this year were convicted Monday of trespassing, but they will not be penalized for their convictions.
The demonstrators attempted to enter the prison on the nights of the executions of Perrie Dyon Simpson in January and Patrick Moody in March. They were arrested each time as they crossed into the prison grounds.
"We chose to break that law because we thought that a greater law was being broken," said Johnathan Wilson Hargrove, one of the protestors who was arrested.
Capitol Police officers testified in court that they repeatedly warned protestors they would be arrested if they did not move.
"We've warned them, we've asked them not to, and they've continued to do that," said Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby. "And so, this was the last resort for us -- was to go forward with the charge."
Wake County District Court Judge Don Overby issued each of the protestors a prayer for judgment, meaning no conviction will appear on the defendants' records and the charges will be listed as pending indefinitely.
Overby also ordered them to pay court costs and told them they would not see jail time unless they are arrested again for the same crime.
Protesters, however, told WRAL that they plan to be back when the next execution is scheduled. Currently, North Carolina has no executions scheduled for the remainder of 2006.