Delay in Executions Means Justice Deferred for Victims’ Families

From by Loretta Boniti, June 7, 2013

You see the headlines: Lives lost at the hand of another, arrests, trials, and, in some cases, death sentences.

But in North Carolina, landing on death row might not mean you will be executed.

“We have not had an execution in North Carolina since 2006 and the longest serving person on death row has been there since 1985,” said Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-New Hanover.

Due to legal wrangling over the execution protocol and other issues, North Carolina has a de-facto moratorium on the death penalty – a delay that is tearing up some murder victim families.

The Howells lost their daughter 21 years ago. Her killer is still awaiting execution. It’s a wait that could be even longer now because of the Racial Justice Act.

“Our police cars in Davie County came out with ‘To serve and to protect.’ I get an attitude every time I see that. I don’t know who they are serving and I sure don’t know who they are,” said Orlando Howell.

The act allows death row inmates to challenge their sentence based on race. If a defendant wins the appeal, their death sentence is converted to life in prison, which is exactly what happened in the case of Sgt. Ed Lowry’s killer.

“I don’t care who killed my brother, I want justice served,” said Al Lowry, “and right now, the state has done everything except serve justice. And yes, I’m upset.”

In all, four people have had their sentences overturned under the Racial Justice Act.

Now the state is on the verge of repealing the law – a step that some families said will help them– or other families in their situation — get the justice they want.

Published in: on June 7, 2013 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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