Activists, Supporters, Justices Ask Governor To Spare Schizophrenic
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 29, 2004
GREENSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA--Anti-death penalty activists are joining two former state Supreme Court justices and defenders of death row inmate Charles Walker, in asking Governor Mike Easley to stall or stop his execution scheduled for Friday.
According to the Associated Press, attorneys for Walker were in court Monday asking Guilford County Superior Court Judge John O. Craig III to grant their request for a stay of execution. They want time for the court to review whether Walker, who has a history of paranoid schizophrenia, deserves a new trial or a reduced sentence.
Walker was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1992 killing of 20-year-old Elmon Tito Davidson, Jr. During his 1995 trial, five witnesses testified that Walker and two other defendants bound Davidson with duct tape and handcuffs, then beat him, shot him and sliced his throat before dumping his body in a trash bin.
Walker was sentenced to die for the crime even though Davidson's body has never been found. Authorities have not found any blood, hair or other evidence linking Walker to the murder.
If Walker is executed on Friday, his would be the first execution in North Carolina history where no victim or evidence tying the victim to the killer was found.
Defense attorneys claim Walker, 39, was hospitalized and diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 11 years old.
Last week, former North Carolina Supreme Court chief justice James G. Exum Jr. and former justice J. Phil Carlton asked the governor to grant a life sentence for Walker, citing his mental illness.
Activists held a rally outside the courtroom this morning. Speaking at the rally was Daryl Hunt, a former death-row inmate who was cleared of murder by DNA evidence. Hunt told the crowd that he believes Walker's co-defendants are guilty of Davidson's murder.
Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that executing people with mental retardation is "cruel and unusual punishment" under the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The ruling did not apply to convicts with mental illness.
Walker's attorneys recently met with Gov. Easley, asking him to reduce Walker's sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"Activists seek clemency for Walker" (News & Record)
"Former justices urge mercy" (News & Observer)