North Carolina Newspapers

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NEWS^e Charlotte
Thursday, November 9, 2006
Activists push for clemency
Continued from page 1A
LeGrande’s case has
attracted additional attention
from anti-death penalty
groups because his prosecu
tor, Ken Honeycutt, was
accused of hiding a deal with
a witness in anotiier murder
case. Honeycutt no longer is
in office.
The claim was filed last
year by the North Carolina
State Bar with the state
Court of Appeals. Honeycutt
has denied the accusations,
but the defendant in that
case won a new trial.
Robinson said LeGrande,
who’s blact, was convicted by
an all-white jury and was
allowed to represent himself
even though he believed near
the time of his trial that
Oprah Wnfrey and Dan
Rather were speaking to him
personally through television
Parker said the county is
nearly 90 percent white and
blacks aren’t often on juries.
LeGrande refused to let
lawyers appointed to repre
sent him participate in his
defense and already believes
Gov Mike Easley has par
doned him, defense lawyer
Jay Feiguson said.
“He has always maintained
his innocence,” Ferguson
said. “He believes at this
moment that he has been
pardoned by the governor He
believes that he is waiting for
the pardon to come through
and he will be paid a large
sum of money”
Ferguson said LeGrande
has refused to meet with him
in prison, leaving Ferguson
waiting for government docu
ments he won at a hearing
last weds before he can file an
appeal on LeGrande’s behalf
“The problem is you have a
mentally ill person represent-
ir^ himself,” Ferguson said.
“When his standby counsel
asked the court to review his
mental competeaicy the judge
asked the defendant if he
wanted to do that and he said
no. His response was to tear
up the paperwork. So you’ve
got a mentally ill defendant
making the call on whether
his competency shordd be
Prosecutors said LeGrande
killed Munford on behalf of
her husband, who wanted to
collect insurance proceeds
and who received a life 3«i-
tence after pleading guilty to
second-degree murder.
Robinson said during
Wednesday’s news conf^ence
that his group planned to
meet with Easley about the
case. LeGrande is scheduled
to die Dec. 1.
Melvin L. “Skip” Alston, a
farmer head of the state chap
ter of the NAACP, said he
was “appalled” by the case,
adding that it illustrated
“unfair practices of the death
of hr-ihl' heh
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Study: Violent and juvenile crime on the rise
By Lorinda M. Bullock
St. Louis and Detroit took
first- and second-place “dis
honors” on Morgan Quinto’s
13th annual Most Dangerous
Cities list this year, crime
prevention and law enforce-
;ment experts say American
cities everywhere—not just
the top 25—need to be con
cerned with a growing trend
of increasing violent crime.
“For a number of cities
across the country we’re see
ing a significant increase in
violent crime in three major
areas: in robberies, in ag^a-
vated assaults and in mur
der,” said Chuck Wexler, exec
utive director of the Police
Executive Research Forum, a
Washington-based law
enforcement think tank.
According to a PERF report
released earh^ this year, “A
Gathering Storm: Violent
Crime in America,” 2005
numbers from the FBI
showed the ‘largest single
year percent increase in vio
lent dime in 14 years.”
Nationally, homicide
increased by 3.4 pax*nt, rob
beries (3.9 percent) and
aggravated assaults (1.8 per
cent). In 2005, more than
30,600 people were miu*-
dered, robbed and assaulted
than in 2004, the report said,
“(For) A nrunber of the
cities, we’re seeing those
increases are five, 10, 20-year
highs and in some places, all-
time highs. This is signifi
cantly different fium what
had been a pretty stable peri
od of either decreasing crime
or increases that were not as
significant as we’ve seen in
the past 18-24 months,”
Wexler said.
Nearly 14 cities/metropoli
tan areas reported they expe
rienced those types of “crime
milestones.” Orlando, Fla.,
Prince George’s County Md.,
and Trenton, N.J. reported
being at an all-time h^ in
violent crime.
Wexler and other crime pre
vention experts agree an
increase in juvenile crime
along with other social prob
lems happening particularly
in low income communities
and conummities of color are
at the root causes of these
current dime trends.
“Those are the communi
ties where the schools aren’t
up to par. Those are the com
munities with the highest
amoimt of luiemployment.
Those are the communities
with tlie least amount of gov
ernment services, (and) tlie
slowest responses even fium
the police,” said Ronald
Hampton, executive director
of the National Blade Pohee
Hampton, a retired officer
of 24-yeai's Sum Washington,
D.C.’s Metropolitan Police
Department remembers
Washington’s toughest years
in the 1980s when the crack-
cocaine epidemic devastated
the majority-Black Capital
city making Washington
often at tlie top of the nation’s
crime lists. Tliis year,
Washington was nimiber 19
on the hst, dropping fium
13th place in 2005 and the
sixth most dangerous dty in
Hampton beOieves part of
Washington’s decline on the
list is because of a recent
influx of White professionals
tired of commuting from
Northern Va. and Md. and
buying homes and condos in
historically Black neighbor
hoods, there is a greater
police piresence now.
He’s even skeptical of
recent crime prevention tac
tics when the dty dedared a
crime emergency earhd' this
year to address crime wave of
violence and robberies. City
officials quickly approved
street surveillance cameras,
curfews for young pieople and
increased px)lice presence.
Even though Wexler
applauds the dty’s efforts,
Hampton said with elections
on the horizon, local politi-
dans had no choice.
He said recent sweeps
reminded him of crime
sweeps in the late 80s early
903 whOT. the pjolice boasted
the arrests of more than
53,000 j>eople. But Hampton
said it was merely a “feel
good” tactic because most of
the arrests were misde-
meanora suicl not feloniea
assodated with the violent
crimes that held the dty
hostage at the time.
“That didn’t have anything
to do with stoppir^ crime,”
Hampton said of the sweeps
both then and now, “But it
was sold and the reason why
it was sold was because
everybody who had some
thing to do with it just about
was running for office.” ,
In D-C., Weder said 42 p)er-
cent of robbery arrests last
year were juveniles. He said
dties like Iffinneapolis and
Boston are among many U. S.
dties dealing with juvenile
crime and an increase in
gang activity In comparison
to 2004, murder arrests of
juveniles climbed 20 percent
in 2005.
Although yovmg pjeople are
increasingly getting involved
in criminal activity Wexler
said they are only one part of
the problem.
‘Tn the 90s a number of
people went to prison in
record niombers and I think
we’re seeing them mming out
of prison now some 10-12
years later. So you’ve got an
increase in juveniles and an
increase in the ptopulation
that is in many cases coming
out of prison not any better
educated or prepared for the
workforce,” he said. “So
they’re older. And if they are
not able to find a job and they
don’t have the necessary
skills, regrettably the
chances of them becoming
involved in crime again are
Wexler’s organization stud
ies these trends and also
organizes events like the
‘'\Tolent Crime Summit” that
took place this summer
where more than 170 mayors
and pohee chiefs fix)m aU ovei-
the country and Canada
came to share ideas.
Douglas Palmer, Trenton’s
first Black mayor was one of
the mayors in attendance. He
is also the vice president of
the U.S. Conference of
According to this yeai’’s
Morgan Quinto list, Tienton
is the 14th most dai^erous
dty in the nation, but Palmer
said tile dty is makir^ great
progress despite its national
‘1 don’t measure our crime
by other dties or where we
are on a list. I measure our
crime by what we’re doir^ in
'frenton each and every year
and how those niunbers
change and if we’re more
aigaged and if we’re using
approaches that wfil help us
reduce crime,” Palmer said.
“Since 2003, our crime has
been reduced by nearly 43
p)ercait. And firom last year’s
statistics even to this year’s
we’ve reduced crime 23 pter-
cent. But we recognize that
we have to continue to do
more because we still have
too much crime.”
By doing more, Palmer
means creating a “holistic”
menu of programs ran^ng
from ex-ofiender employment
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