N.C. Death Row Inmate Freed
Levon "Bo" Jones leaves a North Carolina penitentiary today after serving 13 years on death row.
This is not a DNA reversal.
Levon "Bo" Jones of Duplin County spent 13 years on death row, convicted of robbing and shooting a well-liked bootlegger. In 2006, a federal judge ordered Jones off death row and overturned his conviction, declaring his attorney's performance so poor that his constitutional rights had been violated.
Today, Jones will become the eighth North Carolina man spared execution after charges against him were dropped. Judges turned the inmates loose after discovering a variety of problems in their cases, ranging from hidden evidence to inadequate defense attorneys.
Jones had been awaiting a retrial. The prosectuor intended to go for a life sentence this time around. Then, "his case collapsed" when a key witness recanted. [More...]
In an affidavit that Jones' attorneys filed in April, Lorden said, "Much of what I testified to was simply not true." She said a detective coached her on what to say at Jones' trial and that of co-defendant Larry Lamb. She collected $4,000 from the governor's office as a reward for offering the clues that led to arrests.
Lorden's new testimony also casts doubt on the conviction of Lamb, who is serving a life sentence for Grady's murder. Another co-defendant, Ernest Matthews, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was released in 2001.
Jones has always denied committing the crime. Judge Terrence Boyle, in overturning the death sentence and conviction two years ago said:
Boyle lambasted defense attorneys Graham Phillips Jr. and Charles C. Henderson for performance he deemed "constitutionally deficient." He criticized the lawyers for failing to research Lorden's history well enough to try to discredit her before jurors. He also said they had inadequately prepared to investigate Jones' mental health problems and troubled childhood in attempts to ask the jury to spare Jones the death penalty.
"Given the weakness of the prosecution's case and its heavy reliance on the testimony of Lovely Lorden, there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different."
Jones is not the only inmate to leave North Carolina's death row due to problems with the underlying convictions. From the Death Penalty Information Center:
Samuel A. Poole 1974
Alan Gell 2004
Jonathon Hoffman 2007
Glen Chapman 2008
Here's a list from the North Carolina Department of Corrections of all inmates released from death row since 1977 and the reasons.
|< Obama's O'Reilly Whines | Medical Marijuana Patient Dies After Being Refused Liver Transplant >|