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Green Sentenced to Life in Prison for James Jordan Murder

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LUMBERTON — March 12, 1996 - 4:01 p.m.From Staff and Wire Reports
Related Audio Files:
  • Hear the actual sentence as read in court Tuesday. Listen toaufile.
  • Listen to the statementDaniel Green made in court after the sentence was read.
  • A a member of the jury comments on why they decided on a life sentence. Listen toaufile.
  • The same juror talks about the testimony of Larry Demery. Listen toaufile.A Lumberton jury has sentenced Daniel Green to life in prison, opting not to give him a death sentence.
  • Green was convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree armed robbery and conspiracy to committ armed robbery in the July 23, 1993 attack on the father of basketball starMichael Jordan.

    The state's chief prosecution witness, Larry Martin Demery (R), testified that Green, 21, shot Jordan (below L) in the chest during a roadside holdup. He said the two then ditched the body in a swamp and went joyriding in Jordan's $40,000 Lexus coupe.

    Green's attorneys called to the stand four family friends who testified that Green was watching television at the time prosecutors said Jordan was killed.

    Jordan, 57, was napping in the red Lexus during an overnight drive from Wilmington to Charlotte. He had stopped along U.S. 74, near a motel where Green and Demery were searching for likely robbery victims. The expensive car, a gift to Jordan from his superstar son, caught their eye.

    They sneaked up just as Jordan was awakening, Demery testified.

    ``He made a statement like, `What is this?' or `What's going on?' As soon as these words were out of his mouth, Daniel cut him off. By that I mean he shot him. Daniel just shot him,'' said Demery, who pleaded guilty last spring to the same charges facing Green.

    ``We both stood there and watched the man die,'' he told the Later, as they rifled through items in the car, Green said: ``I believe we've killed Michael Jordan's daddy,'' Demery testified.

    Green later wore a watch and two NBA rings Michael Jordan had given his father, even making a rap videotape of himself flaunting the jewelry. The jury saw a portion of the videotape but without the sound.

    Jordan's family, including his wife, Deloris, were conspicuously absent from the trial. Michael Jordan did not testify. His brother, Larry, was the only family member to attend the trial, and then only long enough to identify the jewelry.

    District Attorney Johnson Britt blamed the killing on greed.

    ``The motivating factor behind this murder was the defendant's desire to have money, to have nice material objects, to have a nice car,'' he said in closing arguments.

    Green and Demery drove around in the Lexus from July 23 to July 26, picking up dates and calling family and friends from the cellular phone, witnesses testified. The first call after Jordan's death was to a sex line, records showed.

    Demery said he and Green took the body to a swamp near Bennettsville, S.C., and Green stole the dead man's shoes before the two of them pushed the body into the water.

    ``He said he liked them and this man wasn't going to need them anymore,'' Demery testified.

    Green also took two suits from the Lexus, and wore the pants from one suit to court one day, Demery said. Defense lawyers promised to explain the pants but never did.

    The body was found Aug. 5, the same day Jordan's car was discovered abandoned and stripped in woods near Fayetteville.

    Defense attorney Woodberry Bowen called the alibi witnesses ``stainless steel ... with no ax to grind.'' But Britt noted that all four were friends of Green's family and came forward only after the trial began. In none of his statements to investigators did Green suggest the alibi, the prosecutor noted.

    Green did not testify.

    The defense attacked Demery's credibility in closing statements. Bowen said Demery had everything to gain by lying that Green was the triggerman. Britt pointed out that Demery's plea bargain still leaves him eligible for a death sentence and that his testimony put Demery closer to the shooting than he earlier admitted

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