Local News

Tense Moments In Court As Judge Resentences Golphin To Life In Prison

Posted December 2, 2005 4:11 a.m. EST

— Emotions boiled over Friday in a courtroom after a judge changed the punishment for a convicted killer from death to life in prison.

In September 1997, Kevin Golphin, then 17, and his brother, Tilmon, shot and killed two North Carolina law enforcement officers -- Highway Patrol Trooper Ed Lowry and Deputy David Hathcock.

Both brothers were sentenced to death, but earlier in the year, an U.S. Supreme Court decision determined the death penalty was unconstitutional for people who were younger than 18 when they committed their crimes.

On Friday, the judge said the decision to change the sentence was beyond his control, so he resentenced Golphin to life. Families on both sides got to speak out in court.

"I wish the state would turn him loose so I can have him," said Al Lowry, the slain trooper's brother.

William McRae, Golphin's uncle, responded to those remarks.

"Those days for what you said, 'turn him loose that you can have him,' [those] days are over," he said.

At that point, Lowry's brother lunged toward McRae. Lowry had to be restrained by other courtroom observers. The outbreak was just the tip of emotion for Dixie Davis, Lowry's widow.

"They've been animals, just pure animals, and then the family gets up to talk about how they are Christians," she said. "I'm a Christian, an eye for an eye, justice for justice. They need to read the Bible a little bit more because I don't think it says that."

"He has told me on numerous occassions he is sorry that this has happened," said Richard McNeil, Golphin's attorney. "We must not forget that yes,he's going to live, but he's going to spend the rest of his natural life in prison. It's not like he's going to get out of jail ever."

Golphin's mother also got up and spoke in court. She said the ordeal has been difficult on both families and said she hopes other teenagers will learn from her sons' mistakes.

Golphin didn't made any comments Friday, but he did have comments about his death sentence in court 7 years ago.

"For the family, I was sorry at first, until I found out you wanted me to die, then I lost that," Golphin said in court in 1998.