State Defense Bar Joins Call for Clemency in McHone Case And So Should We

For only the second time in state history the NC Academy of Trial Lawyers is intervening to seek clemency for a prisoner on death row. As I have chronicled here, there are three individuals schedule to be executed in the next month and all three have received calls for clemency for their own families and the families of the victims, which happen to be the same in all three cases.

McHone was convicted for a string of petty crimes prior to the murder. Then he was convicted of shooting his mother and father because they would not give him money to pay off restitution that he owed on a previous criminal conviction. He is sentenced to be executed on Friday.

The Criminal Defense Bar is now seeking clemency because of what they see as inadequate representation by his defense lawyer that has later been disbarred. And it looks like they might be right.

Here is what the N & O is reporting on McHone:

In a letter to the governor, the academy's president, Clifford Britt of Winston-Salem, wrote: "Steven McHone's lawyer failed to pursue discovery, failed to conduct a meaningful investigation into the defense of his case and failed to seek or present evidence of either extreme intoxication or a dying declaration from one of the murder victims."

The criminal defense bar has steered clear of intervening in specific clemency cases unless the defendant had extraordinarily poor legal representation, said Dick Taylor, the academy's chief executive officer. Taylor said that the problems with McHone's case would not be possible today because of new rules about disclosing evidence and tighter standards for defense lawyers.

The appellate lawyers for McHone raised an intoxication defense that would mitigate the crime if successful, but their efforts were hampered by the lack of discovery done by the original lawyer. Evidence of the intoxication was then unavailable for the appeals attorneys to show to the court.

Executing someone because their lawyer sucked is something Texas would do and not North Carolina. And what were the dying words of his mother?

McHone's mother didn't want her son executed because her dying words were, "He didn't mean to do it. Don't hurt him."

This is getting more and more ridiculous. Write your paper, e-mail Easley; we need to stop this injustice.