Jury Hears Incriminating Evidence in Golphin Trial
Posted April 30, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT
FAYETTEVILLE — A jury will get to hear some controversial and incriminating evidence Friday that could send two brothers to death row. Sentencing has begun for convicted murderers Kevin and Tilmon Golphin.
The sentencing phase could take up to a week, but the state didn't waste any time in introducing evidence in the form of letters written by the two brothers since their arrests. The letters contain damaging evidence that could make the jury's decision easier.
Judge Coy Brewer instructed jurors that the only two possible punishments they could mete out for the two counts of first degree murder for each brother are death or life without parole. These are the same jurors who convicted the two Richmond, Va. men earlier this week.
Prosecutor Calvin Collier makes an argument in favor of putting the Golphins to death.
"I'm going to ask you to consider some questions at the end in addition to the four questions that Judge Brewer will give you about the instructions," Collier told jurors. "And those questions are going to be as it relates to the death penalty. If not now, when? And if not for these defendants, who?"
The jury will hear evidence in the sentencing phase relating to potentially aggravating and mitigating circumstances. That evidence includes the several letters written by Tilmon and Kevin Golphin after their arrests. Cumberland County Homicide Detective Ray Wood read one of Tilmon Golphin's letters to the jury Friday.
"Those [expletive] pork chops deserved that [expletive]," Wood recited. "The beast (police) tried to [expletive] me and my brother up. So I just did what I had to do. I ain't trying to go out like Rodney King. So I smoked them [expletive]."
The letters also referred to law enforcement officers as "wolves" and "bloodclots".
While Wood was reading the letters, jurors showed no visible reaction, but they did stare intently at an enlarged version of the letter on display in the courtroom.
Prosecutors are trying the use all the letters written by the Golphins to prove their hatred of law enforcement. The state has said it will present 15 witnesses during the sentencing phase. Six of them took the stand Friday.
The state finished presenting its direct evidence Friday. Following testimony by the defense, the judge will decide if he will allow testimony from family members and coworkers of the slain officers.