Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Wilmington 10 Pardoned. Two articles:

Wilmington 10 Pardoned. Two articles:

1. North Carolina governor pardons Wilmington 10 by Jamil Smith



The Wilmington Ten are truly free, at last. Outgoing North Carolina Governor Bev  Perdue issued and signed a "pardon of innocence" for

the group Monday. There are currently six surviving

members. The nine African-American men and one white

woman had been convicted in the 1972 firebombing of a

Wilmington, NC grocery store during civil-rights

protests that arose after police shot an

African-American teenager. Between the ten, they

received combined sentences totaling 282 years in prison.

2. NC governor signs pardons for Wilmington 10

By MARTHA WAGGONER December 31, 2012

Associated Press http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/50332695

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Outgoing North Carolina Gov.

Beverly Perdue issued pardons Monday to the Wilmington

10, a group wrongly convicted 40 years ago in a

notorious Civil Rights- era prosecution that led to

accusations that the state was holding political prisoners.

Perdue issued pardons of innocence Monday for the nine

black men and one white woman who were given prison

sentences totaling nearly 300 years for the 1971

firebombing of a Wilmington grocery store after police

shot a black teenager. The pardon means the state no

longer thinks the 10 - four of whom have since died -

committed a crime.

"I have decided to grant these pardons because the more

facts I have learned about the Wilmington Ten, the more

appalled I have become about the manner in which their

convictions were obtained," Perdue said in a news

release Monday.

The three key witnesses in the case later recanted

their testimony. Amnesty International and other groups

took up the issue, portraying the Wilmington 10 as

political prisoners. In 1978, then-Gov. Jim Hunt

commuted their sentences but withheld a pardon. Two

years later, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in

Richmond, Va., threw out the convictions, saying

perjury and prosecutorial misconduct were factors in

the verdicts. "We are tremendously grateful to Gov.

Perdue for her courage," said Benjamin Chavis, the

former national NAACP executive director who was in

jail and prison for about five years before his

release. "This is a historic day for North Carolina and

the United States. People should be innocent until

proven guilty, not persecuted for standing up for equal

rights and justice."

In addition to Chavis, the surviving members of the

Wilmington 10 are Reginald Epps, James McKoy, Wayne

Moor, Marvin Patrick and Willie Earl Vereen. Those who

have died are Jerry Jacobs, Ann Shepard, Connie Tindall

and Joe Wright. Wright was the youngest, arrested when

he was 16 years old. The Wilmington 10 were convicted

in October 1972 on charges of conspiracy to firebomb

Mike's Grocery and conspiracy to assault emergency

personnel who responded to the fire in February 1971.

The trial was held in Burgaw in Pender County after a

judge declared a mistrial the first time. A jury of 10

blacks and two whites had been seated in the first

trial when prosecutor Jay Stroud said he was sick, and

the judge declared the mistrial. At the second trial, a

jury of 10 whites and two blacks was seated.

The three key witnesses who took the stand for the

prosecution recanted their testimony in 1976. And the

prosecutor, Stroud, became a flashpoint for the

Wilmington 10 supporters.

In November, NAACP state leaders said they believe

newly uncovered notes show Stroud tried to keep blacks

off the first jury and seat whites he thought were

sympathetic to the Ku Klux Klan.

They showed the notes on a poster board, saying the

handwriting on the legal paper appeared to match notes

from other prosecution records in the case.

At the top of the list of 100 jurors, the notes said,

"stay away from black men." A capital "B'' was beside

the names of black jurors. The notes identify one

potential black juror as an "Uncle Tom type," and

beside the names of several white people, notations

include "KKK?" and "good!!"

Stroud told the StarNews of Wilmington that he wrote

the notes but declined to confirm that to the AP.

"This conduct is disgraceful," Perdue said of the

notes. "It is utterly incompatible with basic notions

of fairness and with every ideal that North Carolina

holds dear. The legitimacy of our criminal justice

system hinges on it operating in a fair and equitable

manner with justice being dispensed based on innocence

or guilt - not based on race or other forms of prejudice."

[Associated Press writer Michael Biesecker in Raleigh

contributed to this story.]

Martha Waggoner can be reached at http://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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