A man whose testimony helped send a friend to prison for life for killing Michael Jordan's father should receive the same sentence, a jury decided Monday.
Jurors deliberated about two hours before deciding that 20-year-old Larry Martin Demery should not be executed for his role in the 1993 murder of James Jordan.
Demery pleaded guilty last year to first-degree murder, armed robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery in the July 23, 1993, shooting death of Jordan.
The only punishments for first-degree capital murder are life in prison or death.
Demery's testimony for the state helped convict his lifelong friend, Daniel Andre Green, who was convicted in March and is serving a life sentence at Central Prison in Raleigh.
``Larry Martin Demery did not shoot James Jordan. Period,'' defense lawyer Hugh Rogers said Monday during closing arguments in Demery's sentencing trial.
District Attorney Johnson Britt had argued that Demery was as much to blame for the shooting as was Green, even though Green pulled the trigger.
Green said in a newspaper interview earlier this month that Demery should watch his back when he gets to prison because of his cooperation with authorities.
A separate jury decided March 12 that Green didn't deserve a death sentence. His trial began in January. Green denied shooting Jordan, saying he was elsewhere when the crime occurred.
Compared to the crowd of media and spectators present for Green's verdict, few spectators were present for Demery's case. His mother, Virginia Demery, his sister, Crystal, and fiance, Angel McLean, sat in a row in front of his father, Larry Demery Sr.
Demery testified during both his and Green's trials that he watched Green fire a single .38-caliber bullet into Jordan. The elder Jordan had been sleeping in his red Lexus coupe alongside U.S. 74 near here.
Defense attorney Rogers said the initial plan during the Jordan robbery was to take the car, tie up the driver and leave him on a roadside where someone would find him alive. Demery was shocked when the man was killed and surprised later when he and Green found identification showing the dead man was the father of the famous basketball star, Rogers said.
Demery's trial lasted about two weeks, including a week of jury selection and four days of evidence by both sides. The last witness was a psychiatrist who said Demery was easily led and under the influence of Green when Jordan was killed.
Britt, the prosecutor, said Demery and Green were equal partners in Jordan's robbery and murder, as well as a July 4, 1993, motel robbery and the robbery and shooting of a clerk at a country store 11 days later.
Demery pleaded guilty last year to the two other robberies and was sentenced to 40 years in prison on those charges.
Green still is charged with the two other July robberies and is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday on two counts of armed robbery and one count of felonious assault.
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