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Thursday, November 29, 2007
FROM Page 1
Will the truth set Glen Edward Chapman free?
they didn’t charge him for those as well.
[They charged him with two pretty quickly
hat we think he didn’t have anything to do
' in 2002, the case was picked up by
loldsmith and Laughon, whose students
tarted work on the case for her
Vschology and Law class.
"It was really difficult to interview pros-
antes that didn’t want to talk to us, so we
ned to make them feel comfortable, so we
lould meet them at a really nasty hotel,”
lid Jennifer Shelton in a phone interview,
UNC Asheville alumna who drove to
ickory every day one summer to look at
licrofiche newspapers to find clues to the
ise. “We went to the houses of women
hat were killed. I started to recognize the
ality of what happened. I was able to
rok at the newspaper and find things that
ere a year before that were linked.”
A major issue that found in the appeal
as a photo line-up that never showed up
the initial trial, according to Laughon.
w’ad Detective Dennis Rhoney never told
osecutors that there was a line-up and
aid he forgot to give it at the trial and that
jomeone else had been named a suspect.
Fhe six photos are missing from the
Hickory Police Department’s files and
vere never submitted as evidence, accord
ing to Ervin’s order.
The district attorney in the case said
that he told the lawyers they could have
whatever they wanted, but it looks like the
Hickory Police Department was holding
materials that they never even gave the
district attorney,” Laughon said. “The DA
blamed it on the detectives.”
Rhoney testified at the evidentiary hear
ing that he produced all the information
that may have been a value to the defense
in the Ramseur case. However, based on
the testimony of other witnesses at the evi
dentiary hearing and the evidence found in
the Hickory Police Department’s files, but
not in the District Attorney’s files, the
court found that Rhoney’s testimony was
“I looked at him (Rhoney) at one point
and asked him, ‘Why do you think my
client did this?’ He said, ‘Ed had a crack
problem.’ His position was that when peo
ple use drugs they kill people,” Laughon
said about a conversation with Rhoney.
“They were sloppy, they had a bunch of
murders, they freaked and took advantage
of a poor black guy whose family was not
going to get in there and beat down the
doors, like yours would if they thought
you were wronged.”
Since 1973, 124 people on death row
have been exonerated, many with the
help of newly available DNA evidence,
jiaccording to Bloomberg News Service.
[If Chapman is exonerated, it will not be
based upon DNA evidence because his
semen was found in Conley’s body.
Chapman admitted that he had consen
sual sexual relations with Ms. Conley,
I but there was no other physical evi
dence linking Chapman to either mur
“He was a poor, uneducated guy and
when they found the semen that linked
him to Tenene, that was it,” Laughon
aid, “But you and I both know that you
have sex with people that you don’t
The moral for the story is to be
areful where you leave your semen
together a map drawn by
Chapman of the neighborhood of
the crimes to aid in the re-investigation
process. Below, Chapman’s personal journals
from the first .six years of death row.
because if someone gets killed in the
vicinity or the next day you will be sus
pect No. 1.”
Ramseur’s body was found in the crawl
space of a house that had been burned on
two occasions. Conley’s body was found
in a closet of an abandoned house. The
Ramseur and Conley cases were joined for
trial, and Robert C. Adams and W.
Thomas Portwood, Jr. represented
“The last lawyers have not done very
much, it was not a thorough motion. We
had to get all the files, and all the original
defense attorney’s files had been lost,”
Goldsmith said. “No one seemed to be
able to locate the files, and they still
Goldsmith and Jessica Leaven were
appointed as counsel to represent the
defendant in these post-conviction pro
ceedings in 2002.
“I was enticed that he might be innocent,
which does not happen often in death row
cases,” Goldsmith said about his initial
apprehension to take case. “I think he s
innocent. It is inconsistent with his per
sonality; he does not have a history of vio
lence toward women.”
During the time between Chapman’s ini
tial conviction and the time Goldsmith
took the case, an amendment to the open-
file discovery law was passed which
allowed for more access to documents.
Without this, they may not have been able
to find clues that led to his new trial.
“Jessica Leaven painstakingly went
through boxes of Hickory Police
Department files and she found little
things — a memo that had information
that led us to a jailmate that had overheard
another jailmate say he had killed
Ramseur,” Goldsmith said. “There was a
photograph line-up where Chapman was
not identified. There were a lot of witness
statements that were omitted.”
Each year, more than 22,000 inmates
are released from North Carolina’s state
prisons to return to society. One of the
most important factors affecting the
success of these ex-offenders is their
Photos by Pennie Leas - Piiot(xirafmy Editor
ability to get hired and hold a steady
job. An ex-offender who is gainfully
employed is three times less likely to
commit another crime, according to the
North Carolina Department of
“When I found out he had been grant
ed a new trial, 1 asked him the questions
I have asked him since he went in,
‘What do you want to do when you get
out? Where will you go to re-group?’ ”
said Frankie Chapman, Chapman’s sis
ter who lives in Worcester, Mass. “Is
society going to give him another shot?
He has no freedom, and so I need to do
something with mine. So when he gets
his freedom, I can help him.”
In the Conley case, detectives did not
turn over statements from witnesses who
saw Conley alive with other people on
Friday, but still argued that Chapman was
the last person seen with her before she
(;icn Edw ard (ihapman’s sister
was found on Saturday.
“There arc many areas all over the
ease where things were not done cor
rectly,” said Shannon Griswold, UNC
alumna who worked on the case with
Laughon and has corresponded with
Chapman for the past three years. “It’s
a convenience case, and it made the
public feel better and helped them to
Numerous records were never submitted
to the District Attorney’s office, and were
not available to the defendant's coun.sel;
the prosecution summary in the Conley
case did not include all of the Hickory
Police Department's records. According
to Jason Parker, the prosecutor in this
case, he did not reque.st all of the materials
in the Hickory Police Department’s file,
but assumed that all of the typewritten
reports were included in the prosecution
“I’m sitting in the court room and listen
ing to everything that went wrong, and 1
felt like 1 was in church, you know, when
the preacher says something, and every
one says, ‘Amen!’ ” said Frankie
Chapman, relating her time in the court
hearings where withheld evidence was
brought forward. “When they said some
thing that went wrong, I would say, ‘no!’
and my mouth would drop open every
time. I was blown away.”
The state has 60 days to cite an appeal to
Judge Ervin’s order, and once that time
has passed, then the order is effective and
the DA can make the decision to pul him
on trial, according to Goldsmith.
“When he writes to me he says, ‘I
haven’t given up, and .sometimes 1 do get
sad, but I’m not going to give up,’
Frankie Chapman said in a phone inter
view. “When you believe in your inno
cence, you can’t give up. I look forward to
getting to know what he has become and
who he will be.”
In 2(K)6 Earl Washington Jr. was award
ed ,$2.2.‘5 million after a jury agreed with
his claim that a police officer fabricated
evidence in Washington’s criminal trial.
He spent nine years on death row and
received compensation for pain and suf
fering caused by a wrongful conviction
due to a false confession. It was the first-
ever verdict quantifying damages for pain
and suffering caused by being on death
“He may be able to sue the city or the
police department and the detectives. This
is something we would look at if he is
exonerated,” Goldsmith said. “This case
raises grave implications in the justice
system. A failure of system to search for
the truth, and you have to wonder, how
many other cases have the detectives lied
|‘I decided early on that I was not going to sit back and waste away...’
An interview with death row inmate Glen Edward Chapman
1 wrote a letter to Glen Edward Chapman, Ed, as most of the people
interviewed referred to him as, in the hopes that he would be as inspira
tional as alumnus Shannon Griswold,
who has written him letters for the past three years, said he would be.
^fter 15 years of prison, I hoped that I would gain some great life les
ion, regardless of his innocence or guilt. I recieved a letter with slanty
writing in all capital letters, four pages long, from his pod in Central
Prison in Raleigh. It was a response from someone whose sister relat
ed a time when he would walk behind her and her sisters to keep men
from eyeing their bodies and whose mitigation specialist realized after
“year of working on the case that he was innocent.
- Lisa Gillespie, Editor-in-Chief
Lisa Gillespie: How did you feel when you found out you were
granted a new trial in both cases?
Ld Chapman: On the actual day of the ruling my attorney was not
allowed to visit me to relay the news without giving a 24-hour notice.
Lwo fellow inmates were watching WRAL News at 6 when reporter
uavid Crabtree reported that I had been given a new trial. I did not "low
[Myself to respond until I finally got to see Ms. Leaven and Dr.
Laughon’s faces. I truly felt that a heavy weight had been lifted from
'”y shoulders and I felt so very grateful because of the hard work every-
aite put in to make this happen.
LG: What will you do if you are exonerated?
LC: After securing a job and a place to live, I would like to learn a
such as carpentry, landscapping or woodwork. ^ , i j
LG: Fifteen years seems likes a long time to be away from the world
outside, are you preparing yourself for potential exoneration •
LG: Yes, fifteen years is a long time to be away. But 1 decided ear y
that I was not going to sit back and waste away, so I stayed doing
P^'tive things that would help me in the long run. All I can do nght
now is remain hopeful and stay grounded by taking it one day at a time.
I have seen the ads, commerecials on television and in publications
about the new technology, but I feel I can adapt to the transformation
that has taken society by storm. Although I may step out into the world
like a newborn, I am not new to changes, nor afraid to change with the
times or too proud to ask for help.
LG: Where do you think you will be in ten years?
EC: I like to think that I will be at a place in my life where I am con
tent and hope to be enjoying grandkids.
LG: What have you gained and lost during your time on death row?
EC: To me death row meant and represented more than a place where
people waited to be put to death. It was a comination of the characteris
tic traits that all humans face. It was mental because I was concious of
the reality that if I didn’t get help I stood the chance of being put to
death. It was physical because of the changes that were taking place
before my eyes. I didn’t have the strength to make myself get up and
fight. It was spiritual because everything I was taught to believe about
God had me questioning His love for me and my faith in Him. It’s emo
tional because I felt that being stripped of everything was identical to
not having existed in the first place.
I’ve gained understanding of self and worth and have a new perspec
tive about live. I’ve learned that being mad or waddling in self pity only
creates a person who is inconsistent and continues to stumble. I have
also learned to trust more and to rely more on myself becau.se I can’t
expect people to disrupt their lives to hold my hand. It will be up to me
to show people that while I appreciate their help, I am serious about
striving to be better.
LG: What is your biggest fear?
EC: Not succeeding because of where I’ve been all the,se years. I am
not destined to fail. I know it’s not going to be easy but I am commit-
ed to working hard so that my accomplishments will mean more
because they were earned the hard way. You learn more about yourself
as a person when things are not easy.
LG: Is it scary being on death row?
EC: I won’t try to speak for anyone else, but yes, being on death row
is scary. Not because of the people who you share pods with, but the
title itself chills you to the bone. Imagine your worst fear coming true.
LG: What kind of food do you eat in prison?
EC: I strongly would not advise anyone to go to prison to find out.
Aside from the bacteria from wet trays and soap scum-caked glas.ses,
there are days when you recognize the food you eat such as chicken,
fish, tuna, turkey and veggies. Then there are days when you wish you
had life insurance because you are taking a chance on a mystery meal
you can’t pronounce or had never seen before now.
LG: Do you have kids?
EC: I have two sons that I stay in contact with religiously and our
father/son relationship is getting stronger because we communicate.
LG: What do you do in one day?
EC: Unless it rains or is too cold to go outside, most of my time is
spent reading, writing and meditating.
LG: Are you able to listen to music?
EC: We are allowed to purchase a palm si/x radio from the prison
canteen. Although there are new musical groups, my taste in music are
still the same: hip-hop, R&B, country and gospel.
LG: What is your favorite thing?
EC: For the moment, reading and quiet time.
LG: What is your living situation like?
EC: Death row is hou.sed in a building by itself and there are four
pods on two floors with twenty-four inmates per pod. We are not locked
in our cells 24/7. We have a dayroom to interact and during chow time
and recreating time two pods are together. Whatever your religion is,
you can attend that service on the days that it is scheduled.