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District attorney defends prosecution of man convicted of killing father of basketball superstar Michael Jordan

District attorney defends prosecution of man convicted of killing father of basketball superstar Michael Jordan

It was the crime that caused the greatest basketball player in history to become a minor league baseball player who couldn’t hit a curve ball. And 20 years later, doubt has emerged over whether the man convicted of killing Michael Jordan’s father is actually the one who pulled the trigger.

Attorneys representing Daniel Green are asking for a new trial, arguing that James Jordan’s shirt was tampered with after his autopsy.

Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt said he didn’t recall any discrepancies with the shirt. Britt prosecuted the case and it would be an embarrassment to him if the conviction was overturned.

“I’m very confident in the manner in which I handled the case and the way the trial proceeded. They’re trying to change the narrative after the fact,” Britt said.

Britt said Green’s story evolved after he was tied to Jordan’s stolen belongings.

James Jordan is the father of former Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan. Green was convicted of James Jordan’s murder and sentenced to life in prison.

According to the Associated Press, the autopsy didn’t find a hole in Jordan’s shirt that matched a bullet wound in his upper right chest area. But that claim has been contradicted by an agent with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. The office of North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein is examining the issue.

“This newly discovered evidence of tampering adds to the growing list of legal concerns and factual evidence which add weight to the conclusion that not only does Daniel Green deserve a new trial but that he is innocent of the murder of James Jordan,” said Chris Mumma, executive director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, in a statement sent to the Associated Press.

Defense lawyers say this brings doubt onto prosecutors’ claims that James Jordan was sleeping in his car when he was shot, and backs up their argument that there was a physical altercation between Jordan and another man, Larry Demery, before the killing occurred.

James Jordan was killed in July 1993 in North Carolina and his body was later found in a South Carolina swamp.

Green and Demery were convicted of the crime, with Demery cutting a deal with prosecutors and testifying against Green.

On the stand Demery said Green pulled the trigger, something Green has denied, although he has admitted to helping dispose of Jordan’s body, driving his his car and wearing his watch.

Demery was also sentenced to life in prison.

Michael Jordan retired from the NBA after his father was killed and tried to play baseball. But returned to basketball a few years later, after struggling in minor league baseball. He won six NBA titles with the Bulls and one NCAA championship with the North Carolina Tar Heels.

He is now the owner of the Charlotte Hornets NBA team.

Florida prosecutors begin dealing with unanimous jury requirement for death sentences

Florida prosecutors begin dealing with unanimous jury requirement for death sentences

For decades Florida has had a death penalty system that allows prosecutors secure a death sentence with a simple majority, seven of 12 jurors, in favor.

No longer. In the past 18 months the U.S. Supreme Court has thrown out the state’s death penalty procedures and the Florida Supreme Court has ruledthat no one can be put on Death Row without the jury unanimously agreeing on at least one aggravating factor that justifies death. Last month the U.S. Supreme Court ended the entire situation when it refused to consider an appeal of the Florida Supreme Court decision.

An indication of how that will change the death penalty in Florida was on display last month in a Bradenton courtroom when jurors recommended the death penalty by a 7–5 vote for Andres “Andy” Avalos Jr, who was convicted of the first-degree murders of Denise Potter and James “Tripp” Battle III and the second-degree murder of his wife, Amber Avalos.

Two years ago that vote would have been enough to put Avalos on Death Row. Now, the death penalty is off the table. He will get sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

12th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Ed Brodsky, who prosecuted Avalos, saidseeking death was much harder now.

Florida has one of the largest death rows in America, but it has been shrinking this year as the Florida Supreme Court has thrown out the death sentences of 16 people because their death sentences were not unanimous. The total number of people on Death Row has dropped from just under 400 to 363, as of June 19.

Florida’s 20 elected prosecutors will have to decide whether to seek death again in cases where they couldn’t get unanimous jury support the first time. But prosecutors have only themselves to blame, they fought efforts to amend this law for years, even after the Florida Supreme Court encouraged the State Legislature to change the law to require juror unanimity in sentencing someone to death.

“The Florida Supreme Court’s ruling that jury recommendations for the death penalty must be unanimous is a long overdue recognition of the state’s fatally flawed capital punishment regime,” said Professor Mary Anne Franks of the University of Miami School of Law. “The prosecutors who relentlessly pursued death sentences despite being repeatedly placed on notice that the state’s death penalty regime was constitutionally defective should be held accountable for the emotional and financial costs they have imposed on victims’ families and on taxpayers.”

About 75 percent of the people on Death Row in Florida were put there with at least one juror dissenting.

Alabama is now the only state in the country that allows someone to be sentenced to death without the unanimous consent of a jury.

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Michigan man’s exoneration after decades in prison shows importance of holding prosecutors accountable

Michigan man’s exoneration after decades in prison shows importance of holding prosecutors accountable

Ledura Watkins spent 41 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.

And the only evidence prosecutors had against Watkins in the early 1970’s was a single hair.

Earlier this week prosecutors agreed that single hair did not belong to Watkins, 61, and he’s a free man for the first time since he was a teenager.

According to the Associated Press, “Watkins was 20 years old when he was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1975 shooting death of 25-year-old Yvette Ingram during a robbery at her home. Police lab analysts tied Watkins to the crime based on a single hair found at the scene, according to the Innocence Project at the Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School, which took up Watkins’ case and asked a court in January to set aside the conviction.”

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s office agreed that the evidence was flawed under the FBI’s current standard for hair comparison, and agreed to his release.

Watkins will be the longest serving wrongly convicted person in the United States to be determined innocent, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.

And while the story had a happy ending, Watkins lost over 40 years of his life in prison on a single hair. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy deserves credit for not trying to do everything to keep Watkins locked up, but the same cannot be said for the prosecutors 40 years ago who felt justified in having Watkins locked up on such flimsy evidence.

But William Cahalan, who was the elected prosecutor in the 1970’s, died in 1990. No one will answer for this grave injustice.

And that’s why our society needs to do a better job of holding prosecutors accountable. It’s comforting to think the authorities know what they’re doing, but Ledura Watkins can tell you that’s not always the case.

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