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Prosecutor Holds up Bloodstained Uniform to Urge Death Penalty for Brothers

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Tilmon Golphin (rear, center) and his brother Kevin (right), listen to testimony in the sentencing phase of their double murder trial in Fayetteville. (WRAL-TV5 News)
FAYETTEVILLE — A prosecutor held up a bloodstained policeman's uniform Monday and said the man's killers deserved to die for murdering him and another officer.

``We're here because there's blood on this uniform, and there's blood on the seal of the state of North Carolina,'' Cumberland County District Attorney Ed Grannis said to jurors who will decide the fate of Tilmon Golphin, 19, and his brother, Kevin Golphin, 18.

The Richmond, Va., teen-agers were convicted April 29 of first-degree murder for killing State Highway Patrol Sgt. Ed Lowry - whose uniform was displayed to jurors Monday - and Cpl. David Hathcock of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department. They were shot last Sept. 23 along Interstate 95.

After listening to closing statements by prosecutors and the brothers' attorneys Monday, the jury heard 2-1/2 hours of complicated instructions from Superior Court Judge Coy E. Brewer Jr. about their impending deliberations. The judge then sent the jury home Monday evening without deliberations beginning. Jurors were expected to get the case Tuesday.

The officers had stopped the brothers in a car they stole in Kingstree, S.C., near where they were staying with their grandparents. Testimony showed Tilmon Golphin shot Hathcock and Lowry with a rifle, and Kevin Golphin took Lowry's pistol and shot Lowry again.

Prosecutor Calvin Colyer on Monday described Lowry's last moments as he lay wounded on the ground, ``hurting and bleeding, but he's still trying to do his job.

``But then Kevin snatches his gun and at almost pointblank range fires it three times into his back. There was no reason to do that,'' he said.

``This case, I contend, is one of the worst murders you will ever see in the state of North Carolina, and these two defendants are the worst of the worst defendants you will ever see,'' Colyer said.

``We'd like you to show mercy. ... We are asking you to give him every minute of every hour of every day for the rest of his life behind bars,'' Jim Walen, Kevin Golphin's attorney, exhorted jurors.

``We've never tried to make you forget the memories of these two law officers,'' said Tilmon Golphin's attorney, Jim Parish. ``Do we honor these two officers by killing two more men? Do we dishonor their memories by putting these men in prison for life without parole?''

The defendants' attorneys touched on the Golphins' troubled upbringing without attempting to downplay the seriousness of their crime.

``These circumstances do not make it OK to kill. They do not absolve them. They do not excuse them from killing,'' said Parish. ``This is not a justification or an excuse or a defense, but it explains who Tilmon Golphin is.''

Colyer and Grannis scoffed at the defense lawyers' approach.

``They want to blame mommy, daddy, the lack of a male role model, the school system, the neighborhood, the officers, the church,'' Colyer said. ``You know that that is not right. They are to blame. They are responsible, and they need to be punished, and they need to get the ultimate punishment.''

``Why are we here?'' asked Grannis. ``Because some poor woman was trying to raise two children and did it poorly? Because some Vietnam vet had an alcohol problem and abused the two children? No. We're here because two cold-blooded men killed two law officers.''

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