Local News

Sister Begs Governor To Spare Condemned Man's Life

Posted August 20, 2001 1:55 a.m. EDT

— The sister of a condemned murderer said Monday she will ask Gov. Mike Easley to lock her brother up for life and spare him from the execution chamber later this week.

Teresa White Hunt of Charlotte said she tried to get help for her brother, Clifton White, before he killed Kimberly Ewing in 1989. Hunt said her brother was abusing cocaine and alcohol, and she wanted his probation officer to have him arrested.

"I couldn't get anybody to listen to me," Hunt said. " ... I just hope it isn't too late."

White, 43, is scheduled to be executed by injection at 2 a.m. Friday in Central Prison. His sister and attorneys, as well as prosecutors, have clemency meetings scheduled Tuesday afternoon with Easley.

"I don't want him to die, but I don't want him to get out, either," Hunt said.

Prosecutors from the state Attorney General Office and Mecklenburg district attorney's offices didn't return phone calls seeking comment.

In a taped message to the governor, White said he should be imprisoned the rest of his life because he regrets every day the killing of Ewing, 28, of Charlotte, who had given him a place to stay.

"I've got a bad alcohol and drug problem," he said. "I don't need to be put on the street. ... Nobody forced me to do those drugs and nobody forced me to drink that liquor."

White said life in prison would be substantial punishment because prison "is a very lonely place."

A psychologist said White's personality changed a petty thief supporting a drug habit to an aggressive man trying to regain control over his life after he was raped in prison. That rape preceded the killing.

Besides the clemency proceeding, White's attorney has filed appeals in state and federal courts.

One appeal is a challenge to Easley's authority to conduct clemency hearings because he is a former prosecutor and attorney general. The state high court already has ruled that Easley has authority to consider clemency.

Attorney Jonathan Broun challenged in the state Supreme Court the law under which White was convicted. The old law, since changed, required prosecutors to seek death sentences in certain cases.

Broun also is taking to the U.S. Supreme Court an appeal of the state's standard indictment form that doesn't require a listing of all particulars of the case.

Broun said White's childhood was important in understanding how he arrived on death row. His father threatened to commit suicide, was addicted to narcotics and was blacklisted at pharmacies. Once, Broun said, White watched while his grandfather shot his uncle in the legs to keep White's mother from being beaten.