James Ray Little III – black, age 19

Sentenced in Forsyth County, North Carolina
By: a jury
Date of crime: October 5, 2006
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Little robbed and fatally shot Bira Gueye (age 47). On the night of October 4 and early the next morning, Little wandered the streets looking for people to rob to buy marijuana. He robbed and pistol-whipped two men, then used one of their cell phones to call a cab. He reconsidered robbing the first cab after he recognized the driver. Gueye’s cab was then dispatched to pick up Little, who robbed Gueye and shot him in the back twice. During the penalty phase, the prosecution presented three factors which it argued merited the death penalty. Factor one, the prosecution presented Little’s past conviction of larceny from a person as evidence of a past violent felony. The two other factors: the murder was committed for financial gain – Little took at least $20 from Gueye and the crime was part of a pattern of violent crime that night. The defense presented Little’s IQ of 79, psychologist testimony that Little acts impulsively and evidence of a troubled upbringing among others factors. The jury found all the defendant’s 21 mitigating factors, but also found all three of the State’s aggravating factors, and determined that the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors and returned a verdict of death.
Prosecutor(s): Jim O’Neill, Jennifer Martin
Defense lawyer(s): Clark Fischer, Chris Beechler
Sources: Winston-Salem Journal 11/21/08 (2008 WLNR 22286845); www.digtriad.com/news/local/article.aspx?storyid=114529&catid=57; www2.journalnow.com/content/2008/nov/22/little-given-death-in-killing-of-cab-driver/