NC Juries Continue to Opt Against Death Penalty
RALEIGH, N.C. – Nathan Holden, convicted of the murders of his in-laws and beating of his ex-wife, will spend life in prison without the possibility of parole. That's the decision of a Wake County jury late last week, marking the seventh time in a row a jury in that county rejected the death penalty. Critics of the punishment say it's further proof that society is moving away from capital punishment.
Retired police chief Gerald Galloway of Southern Pines attests to that, admitting that after 30 years in law enforcement he sees the death penalty very differently than he did at the beginning of his career.
"I'm not saying at all that folks that commit those murders don't deserve death, but I don't think it's got an issue with what a person deserves as much as it does the practicality of administering that kind of penalty in a society that we claim we are and that we want to be," he explained.
It has been more than a decade since North Carolina executed a prisoner. Galloway and others point to the additional cost to taxpayers to pursue the death penalty, since trials often take longer, the rulings are often appealed, and when defendants face the death penalty, they are entitled to two attorneys. Supporters of the death penalty say it is still needed in the most heinous of crimes.
Galloway says another major factor in his changing his position on the death penalty is witnessing the impact the pursuit of the death penalty can have on a victim's family.
"We also promise victim's things that we can deliver," he said. "We promise them justice and in reality that justice is so long and drawn out that the person who's on death row outlives the victim's families."
In May of 2016, former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake, Jr., who voted to affirm 185 death sentences, said he now believes the death penalty is unconstitutional.