by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
New N.C. Supreme Court rulings today move three more state prison inmates off death row. In each case, the state’s highest court decided that the General Assembly’s repeal of the controversial Racial Justice Act could not lead courts to restore a death sentence.
The decisions mean that convicted murderers Quintel Martinez Augustine, Tilmon Charles Golphin, and Christina Shea Walters will serve life sentences without parole.
In each case, Republican Justice Paul Newby dissented. Newby cited objections he had raised in August in a separate RJA case. Justices Sam Ervin IV and Mark Davis, who also had dissented in the August case, concurred with the majority opinions in the three latest cases.
That means just four of the court’s seven justices agreed with the reasoning underlying the decisions to move the defendants from death row. In Golphin’s case, just three justices backed the main opinion. Chief Justice Cheri Beasley did not participate in that case.
Augustine was convicted of shooting a Fayetteville police officer to death in 2001. Golphin was convicted along with his brother of shooting a sheriff’s deputy and state trooper to death along Interstate 95 near Fayetteville in 1997. Walters was convicted of shooting 18- and 21-year-old women to death in 1988 as part of a gang initiation.