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A New Jury Should Decide Fate of Green Co-Defendant, Judge Rules

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LUMBERTON, N.C. (AP) — March 13, 1996 - 11:01 a.m. ESTBy ESTES THOMPSON,Associated Press Writer
Related Audio Files:
  • Hear the actual sentence as read in court Tuesday. Listen toaufile.
  • 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 jury decided on life in prison for one man convicted of murdering Michael Jordan's father, and a jury should decide the fate of his co-defendant, a judge ruled today.
  • Larry Martin Demery, 20, had asked Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks to sentence him to life in prison - the same punishment a jury meted out Tuesday to co-defendant Daniel Andre Green for the 1993 slaying of James R. Jordan.

    Weeks rejected the request this morning, agreeing with District Attorney Johnson Britt that a jury should decide Demery's sentence.

    ``The question is Mr. Demery's role. Because it's a factual question, it's got to be resolved by a jury,'' Britt argued during a hearing that lasted less than an hour.

    Demery's lawyer, Hugh Rogers, said the evidence in Green's trial showed Demery played only a minor role in the crimes against Jordan.

    ``The evidence shows unequivocally Larry Demery was a bystander when this occurred. Larry Demery did not commit one single element of the underlying armed robbery,'' Rogers said.

    ``As far as participating in the armed robbery, Daniel Green had the weapon, the only weapon. Daniel Green used the weapon. Daniel Green took the Lexus alone. Daniel Green had the rings and the watch and was shown in videos wearing them. Daniel Green took the credit cards. Daniel Green had the golf clubs,'' Rogers said.

    No date has been set for Demery's sentencing hearing, a mini-trial where evidence will be presented to a jury to determine if Demery should get life in prison or the death penalty.

    Demery will testify, Rogers said.

    Jurors who sentenced Green to life in prison did so because they weren't positive he pulled the trigger, the jury forewoman said.

    The jury of six women and six men deliberated nearly 3-1/2 hours Tuesday before agreeing unanimously to the life sentence.

    Weeks also sentenced Green to 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit robbery. Green could be eligible for parole in about 20 years.

    ``Justice has been served,'' said District Attorney Johnson Britt, who had argued for a death sentence.

    Green, 21, was convicted Feb. 29 of killing Jordan as he napped in his red Lexus coupe along a Robeson County road on July 23, 1993.

    ``Everybody agreed, yes, he was there. But we were not quite sure who the triggerman was,'' jury forewoman Audrey Chavis said Tuesday.

    Demery testified against Green, telling the jury he watched in surprise as Green shot Jordan with a .38-caliber pistol as Jordan awoke from a roadside nap in his car.

    Demery could have been lying when he blamed Green for the shooting, she said.

    Mrs. Chavis said she and another juror initially wanted the death penalty for Green.

    ``They had to convince me he shouldn't receive the death penalty,'' said Chavis, a seventh-grade teacher. ``That's what they did and I changed my vote.''

    Defense attorneys appealed the conviction and sentence. Weeks assigned the state Appellate Defender's Office to handle the appeal.

    Demery pleaded guilty to murder, armed robbery and conspiracy last year and agreed to help prosecutors.

    Mrs. Chavis described Demery as a good witness who didn't change his story.

    Juror Carla Woodell said she believed part of Demery's testimony, but not all of it.

    Juror Joseph Kotai said Demery's testimony ``had some weight to it. Demery was too smooth and he had too many stories, but the meat of his story rang true.''

    Green did not testify during his trial, but did address the jury before the judge imposed the sentence.

    ``I know it may seem cliche but I did not kill Mr. Jordan, I did not rob Mr. Jordan,'' Green said. ``I know this is supposed to be a sacred process ... but the way people lie, both inside this courtroom and outside this courtroom, has made this process about as sacred as the red-light district in New Orleans.'' Copyright ©1996 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.

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