John Badgett – white, age 34

Sentenced to death in Randolph County, North Carolina
By: A jury
Date of crime: 11/20/02
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Badgett confessed to killing 55-year-old, Grover Kiser, by stabbing him in the neck and stealing from the victim. Badgett claimed he killed Kiser in self-defense, after Kiser threatened him. The defense argued Kiser had a history of mental illness. In mitigation, the defense claimed Badgett had a difficult childhood, and saw his grandfather kill his father and was abused by his stepfather. A psychiatrist testified Badgett had a rare condition called, intermittent explosive disorder. Badgett had a history of assaults dating back to 1987.
Prosecutor(s): Andy Gregson
Defense lawyer(s): Clark Bell
Sources: Greensboro News & Record 4/20/04, 4/28/04, 5/4/04, 5/7/04; North Carolina Department of Correction:

Kyle Berry—white, age 19 (re-sentence as a result of an appellate reversal)

Sentenced to death in New Hanover County, North Carolina
By: A jury
Date of crime: 11/98
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Berry killed Lisa Maves (a crime for which he has been charged, but never tried). Then he killed 16-year-old acquaintance Theresa Fetter because she had learned from him of the Maves murder, and Berry was afraid Fetter would reveal the crime. He killed Fetter by hitting her with a metal pipe, and stabbing her 8 times in the head. Then he concealed her body in secluded area. The defense pointed out that there was no proof that Berry had killed Maves, except for a friend of Fetter’s who testified that Fetter had confided to her that Berry had killed Maves. The defense presented mitigating evidence of Berry’s terrible childhood, drug addiction, and mental problems including bipolar disorder.
Prosecutor(s): Todd Fennell, Dru Lewis
Defense lawyer(s): Thomas Maher, Ed West
Sources: Star-News (NC) 2/25/04, 2/26/04, 3/6/04, 3/9/04, 3/10/04, 3/11/04

Paul Dewayne Cummings—Native American, age 22

Sentenced to death in New Hanover County, North Carolina
By: A jury
Date of crime: 10/4/02
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Cummings robbed his neighbor Jane Head in her home and killed her by inflicting sixteen stab wounds with one of her kitchen knives. He then took her ATM card and her van and drained her bank account to buy drugs. The defense presented evidence of Cummings’s extreme domestic abuse by his father resulting in post-traumatic stress disorder, which had driven him to drug and alcohol dependence, which in turn had clouded his judgment in killing Head and rendered him incapable of premeditation. While awaiting trial on this capital charge, Cummings was convicted of armed robbery of a cabdriver that occurred two months before he committed this murder.
Prosecutor(s): Ben David, Dru Lewis
Defense lawyer(s): Rick Miller, Kevin Peters
Sources: Star-News (NC) 9/1/04, 9/3/04, 9/9/04, 9/15/04

Jason Hurst—white, age 23

Sentenced to death in Randolph County, North Carolina
By: A jury
Date of crime: 6/9/02
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Hurst needed money and a car to go see his pregnant ex-girlfriend. He lured victim Daniel Branch to a field on the pretext of test-firing a shotgun Hurst claimed he might buy. Hurst then shot Branch in the abdomen with the shotgun, then in the side as Branch was trying to flee, and then in the face as Branch was lying on his back. Hurst stole Branch’s car. Hurst confessed to the crime, and his lawyers admitted at trial that he committed the murder. But they argued that due to a mental defect (borderline personality disorder) he shot Branch during a transient disassociative episode when he was so fixated on going to see his ex-girlfriend that he did not think of alternatives; thus, he did not have sufficient capacity to formulate the premeditation necessary for first-degree murder, and should only be convicted of second-degree murder. During the penalty phase the defense renewed its claim of mental incapacity, pointing out that in his confession Hurst seemed unable to explain why he had killed Branch. The defense also offered evidence of Hurst’s troubled childhood, and his drinking and drug usage.
Prosecutor(s): Andy Gregson, Garland Yates
Defense lawyer(s): Jon Megerian, Frank Wells
Sources: Courier-Tribune (Asheville) 3/13/04; Greensboro News & Record 3/16/04, 3/10/04