Ryan Garcell – Latino, age 18
Sentenced to death in Rutherford County, North Carolina
By: A jury
Date of Crime: 6/22/04
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Garcell and cohorts went to the home of 71-year-old victim Margaret Bennick to rob her. She admitted them because she knew Garcell’s girlfriend. Garcell tied Bennick to the bed and strangled her. After he was sentenced to death, he escaped, invaded a home, and stole a truck, but was soon recaptured.
Prosecutor(s): Charlie Walker Defense Lawyer(s):
Sources: The Asheville Citizen-Times 4/6/06 (LEXIS USPAPR file); The McDowell News 4/6/06 (www.mcdowellnews.com), 4/6/06 www.mcdowllnews.com (version 2).
Darrell Maness – white, age 19
Sentenced to death in Brunswick County, North Carolina
By: A jury. The sentencing was marred by an unusual sequence of events. The jury returned a life sentence verdict, but when the judge polled the jurors, four of them disavowed the life verdict. The judge sent them back to deliberate further, and they returned a death sentence.
Date of Crime: 1/18/05
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Officer Mitch Prince pulled Maness over in a traffic stop. Maness hit the officer with a bottle, took his gun, and then shot him three times while the officer was on his knees begging for his life. He later shot at other officers before he was captured.
Prosecutor(s): Rex Gore Defense Lawyer(s): Kevin Peters, Mike Ramos, Rick Miller
Sources: AP Alert – North Carolina 4/5/06; The State Port Pilot 4/5/06 (www.stateportpilot.com/stories/deathsentence0405.htm); Myrtle Beach Sun News 4/6/06 (2006 WLNR 5751802); Star-News 4/6/06 (2006 WLNR 6938781), 5/5/06 (2006 WLNR 9621987.
Jeremy Murrell – black, age 23
Sentenced to death in Winston-Salem, North Carolina
By: A jury
Date of crime: August 2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Lawrence Harding was kidnapped from the restaurant where he worked, robbed of $100, and shot twice. His body was found in the trunk of his car eight days later in Virginia. Murell was turned in by three of his Winston-Salem State University classmates after he bragged about the crime. The defense focused on Murrell’s troublesome childhood with a schizophrenic mother and a mentally unstable father.
Prosecutor(s): Jennifer Martin Defense lawyer(s): Kevin Mauney
Sources: Associated Press 2/8/06, 2/18/06; Charlotte Observer 2/19/06
George Wilkerson – white, age 23
Sentenced to death in Randolph County, North Carolina
By: A jury
Date of crime: Jan. 11, 2005
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Wilkerson was convicted for the shooting deaths of two teenage boys. Defense argued it was a case of mistaken identity, even though Wilkerson was found outside the home where the crime occurred. Prosecutors said motive was due to the victims stealing a gram of cocaine from Wilkerson. Logan Malanowski was also charged with the murders and received a life sentence. In a prior statement to police, Wilkerson claimed Malanowski was the shooter, but recanted that statement, claiming no involvement in the crime. During sentencing, defense presented evidence that his mother had been married eight times to abusive men, and his father was a registered sex offender.
Prosecutor(s): Andy Gregson, Ray Warburton Defense lawyer(s): Bill Causey, Alec Carpenter
Sources: Greensboro News & Record 1/12/05 (2005 WLNR 24378867), 1/16/05 (2005 WLNR 694504); The Courier Tribune 12/8/06 (www.courier-tribune.com), 12/19/06 (www.courier-tribune.com)