Cabarrus lawmaker calls for public hangings

Posted January 26, 2012 3:19 p.m. EST
Updated January 26, 2012 8:02 p.m. EST

A Cabarrus County lawmaker wants to bring back public hangings in North Carolina as a deterrent to crime, and he says doctors who perform abortions should be in the line to the gallows.

Republican Rep. Larry Pittman, who was appointed to the District 82 House seat in October, expressed his views in an email sent Wednesday to every member of the General Assembly.

Pittman said he was disgusted by the actions of death row inmate Danny Robbie Hembree Jr., who recently sent a letter to The Gaston Gazette bragging about how easy life is in prison and that appeals would stall his execution for years.

"We need to make the death penalty a real deterrent again by actually carrying it out. Every appeal that can be made should have to be made at one time, not in a serial manner," Pittman wrote in the email. "If murderers (and I would include abortionists, rapists, and kidnappers, as well) are actually executed, it will at least have the deterrent effect upon them. For my money, we should go back to public hangings, which would be more of a deterrent to others, as well."

He confirmed to WRAL News on Thursday that he wrote the email but said he had intended to send it only to Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and not to every lawmaker. He said he was tired and accidentally hit "Reply All" on an email that Moore had sent to the General Assembly about Hembree.

"I was filled with anger, disgust, and frustration, as well as a profound sense of grief for the family of the young woman he killed," Pittman said of Hembree. "I felt a need to 'vent' some of these feelings and intended to do so to him alone. In the process, I got a bit carried away and overstated my case. I am sure I am not the only one who has ever done that."

He said he doesn't want his email turned into "a sideshow for political purposes" and said what Hembree said was more outrageous than his comments.

"What I regret is that something I wrote as a personal note to a fellow member of the House has had the effect of taking the focus off of where it should be, which is the victim and her family and the need to provide them with justice," he said.

Pittman's biography on the legislative website lists his profession as "pastor, shipping worker, company chaplain."