On September 23, 1997, in broad daylight on Interstate 95 in North Carolina, two brothers, Kevin and Tilmon Golphin, murdered North Carolina Highway Patrolman Ed Lowry and Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputy David Hathcock in cold blood. They then took off in their vehicle, and a civilian chased them as they fired on his car multiple times. Police tracked them down to Dunn, NC, where after a shootout with police, they were captured. They were sentenced to death, but Kevin Golphin, who was seventeen at the time of the murders, had his sentence commuted after the United States Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty could not be applied to those who committed crimes as minors. Now Tilmon’s death penalty is commuted.
In 1999, Christina “Queen” Walters was convicted and sentenced to death. She and her accomplices murdered two young women and shot another woman eight times, severely wounding her, as part of their initiation rite for a gang. Interviews with her in prison have shown her to be a self-centered psychopath without remorse who only cares about herself. Her death sentence is now commuted.
Quintel Augustine murdered Officer Roy Turner on November 29, 2001. He was sentenced to death. His death sentence is not commuted.
Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Greg Weeks is responsible for the commutations. He was following the “North Carolina Racial Justice Act,” barely passed by a (then) Democratic Party controlled legislature and signed by Governor Bev Perdue (who has consistently shown her disdain for the will of the people of North Carolina). The law puts the onus of proof on prosecutors in death penalty convictions to show they were not racially biased in striking black jurors.
Judge Weeks clearly had an agenda from the beginning when he took all three cases. I agree with Al Lowry, the brother of the murdered highway patrol officer, who yelled at the judge, “Judge, you had your mind made up the first day.” Judge Weeks was aware that both the prosecution and the defense have only a set number of strikes, and that both must accept a jury before it is seated. He was surely also aware that jurors in any case may be struck for any number of reasons unrelated to race. In death penalty cases, prosecutors want jurors who are not opposed in to the death penalty. To assume racial bias because more black potential jurors were excluded from a jury than white jurors is itself a sign of racial bias. Different reasons were cited by the prosecution for striking the black jurors from each of the juries–and white jurors were struck, too. The so-called “civil rights leadership” seems to have no problem with predominately black jurors convicting whites–neither do I–but their double standard is telling.
I believe that in cases of psychopaths are are clearly guilty, as the defendants were in these cases of brutal murder, the death penalty is justified. Appeals to the teachings of Jesus while ignoring Paul in Romans 13 artificially separate the teachings of Jesus from His apostles and are therefore theologically suspect. If a person has a conscience and is salvageable, then I am all for a life sentence, even in a brutal murder. However, defendants such as those in these cases who clearly have no conscience are beyond help, at least in this life. Study after study has shown that psychopaths remain psychopaths, and lack conscience, a fundamental trait of being a moral creature. Jurors saw this, and that is why these people were convicted. To imply that they were treated unjustly is an insult to the integrity of the prosecutors and an insult to the integrity of the jurors.
The “Racial Justice Act” should be repealed, although cowards in the NC State Legislature who are afraid to stand up to ideological thugs may keep this from happening. The law itself is unjust. Judge Weeks’s rulings were unjust. God bless the families of the victims of these brutal crimes who have been raked over the coals once more by an unfair criminal justice system.
- North Carolina judge reduces three death sentences over racial bias (guardian.co.uk)