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Golphin Brothers Found Guilty of Murdering Law Officers

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FAYETTEVILLE (AP) — Two brothers are facing possible death sentences after they were convicted Wednesday of murdering two law officers during a highway traffic stop last fall.

Kevin and Tilmon Golphin of Richmond, Va., had admitted they shot Highway Patrol Trooper Ed Lowry and Cumberland County sheriff's deputy David Hathcock. But they claimed during trial that they never meant to the kill the officers during the stop on Interstate 95.

The jury took just 3.5 hours to reject the defense. They now must decide if the Golphins should spend the rest of their lives in prison or be put to death. The sentencing hearing was scheduled to begin Friday morning.

``I believe in capital punishment and I would like to see them taken off the earth. They are evil,'' said Lowry's wife, Dixie, after the verdict. ``Someone who is 18 to 19 knows exactly what they're doing.''

Prosecutors portrayed the Sept. 23 killings as part of a crime spree that began in Kingstree, S.C., with the robbery of a finance company employee.

They said Kevin Golphin, 18, took Lowry's .40 caliber Beretta and shot the two lawmen at pointblank range as they lay bleeding and wounded after being shot by Tilmon Golphin, 19, with an SKS rifle.

Cumberland County District Attorney Ed Grannis said in closing arguments Tuesday that at least a minute elapsed between the time Tilmon Golphin first unloaded the rifle and when his brother took the pistol to finish off the officers.

``Those defendants, on that day, could have secured their own freedom without killing a soul,'' Grannis said.

Jim Parish, Tilmon Golphin's lead attorney, argued his client was only trying to get Lowry off his brother and prevent him from being doused with pepper spray by Hathcock.

He told jurors the episode only lasted seconds, never giving Tilmon Golphin time to act with premeditation.

``You know at least the reasoning for what happened. It's still a crime. It's still murder,'' Parish said.

Lawyers for Kevin Golphin also focused on the issue of the pepper spray used by the officers.

``It seems to be undisputed that Kevin was slammed face down in the ground, Maced ... and they now want to tell you that Kevin was acting in a cool, cold-blooded, rational manner,'' said Ron Winfrey, a lawyer for Kevin Golphin.

Prosecutors said the pepper spray issue was simply meant to divert the jury's attention.

``The defense lawyers are trying to get you to try the officers,'' assistant district attorney Calvin Colyer told the jury in his closing. ``This is not a case of pepper spray gone bad. What it is, is a case of fleeing felons who were not going to be captured under any circumstances.''

In addition to first-degree murder, the brothers were convicted of armed robbery, possession of a stolen car, shooting into an occupied vehicle and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.

Superior Court Judge Coy E. Brewer Jr. ordered the lawyers to meet Thursday to determine what items of evidence may be admitted during the sentencing hearing.

Friday's 10 a.m. hearing will be conducted like a mini-trial, with both sides presenting opening arguments and evidence of whether the death sentence is appropriate.

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