Officials request clemency for a condemned man

by Jordan Green

With a month to go before the state of North Carolina carries out its scheduled execution of Guy LeGrande, a group of Democratic elected officials called for Gov. Mike Easley to grant the condemned man clemency, arguing that his mental illness should have precluded him from representing himself or being held responsible for his crime.

“Anyone with sound mind would see that this person could not represent himself,” said Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston. “You don’t kill a mentally ill person that’s not responsible for their actions.”

He was joined at a press conference held in front of the old county courthouse on Nov. 1 by county commission Chairwoman Carolyn Coleman and NC House Rep. Pricey Harrison.

The NC Black Leadership Caucus delivered a letter requesting clemency to Easley on the same day. In addition to arguing that LeGrande, who is black, was not competent to represent himself, the caucus contends that LeGrande’s death sentence fits a racial pattern with at least three other Stanly County cases in which men of color received death sentences through all-white juries.

The victim, Ellen Munford, was white.

“I think an all-white jury is not a jury of his peers,” Harrison said. “You’re much more likely to be sentenced to death if your victim is white than if it is black. That’s not a theory; that’s just fact. It’s very problematic for a black man to be put on death row under those circumstances.”

Kenneth Honeycutt, the Stanly County district attorney who won LeGrande’s conviction, declined to comment for this story.

Easley spokeswoman Sondra Artis said the governor had not seen the letter as of late Nov. 1, and had made no decision. Clemency hearings are scheduled for Nov. 15.

-‘ Jordan Green