Skip to Content
North Carolina Newspapers

The blue banner. online resource ([Asheville, N.C.]) 1984-current, November 29, 2007, Image 3

Below is the OCR text representation of this newspaper page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

i i1 1 Thursday, November 29, 2007 {TheBLUE Banner} News Page 3 Continued FROM Page 1 Will the truth set Glen Edward Chapman free? In I for' the get here boot ould 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 not credible. “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 der, “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 Dr. Pamela Laughon pieces 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. Frank Goldsmith Ixad Counsel Icanl kill. 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 Chapman. “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 can’t.” 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 Correction. “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 hrankic (lhapman (;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 save costs.” 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 summary. “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 row wrongfully. “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 about?” |‘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.

North Carolina Newspapers is powered by Chronam.

Digital North Carolina