RALEIGH — Attorneys for a man serving life in prison for the murder of Michael Jordan’s father are asking for a new trial, saying someone tampered with the dead man’s shirt after his autopsy.
The autopsy found no hole in James Jordan’s shirt that corresponded with the bullet wound in his upper right chest area, but an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation later contradicted that on the witness stand, according to the lawyers’ filing in North Carolina’s Robeson County Superior Court.
“This newly discovered evidence of tampering adds to the growing list of legal concerns and factual evidence which add weight to the conclusion that not only does Daniel Green deserve a new trial but that he is innocent of the murder of James Jordan,” said Chris Mumma, executive director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, which recently joined Green’s defense.
Ian Mance, Green’s lead appeals counsel, filed the motion claiming that the shirt worn by James Jordan on the night he was killed did not have a bullet hole when Jordan’s body was examined by a South Carolina medical examiner, but weeks later when it was logged into evidence by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, it did.
“Multiple notations in the autopsy report make clear the pathologist looked for but could not find a hole in the location of Mr. Jordan’s shirt that would have corresponded with the gunshot wound,” Mance said in a statement. “The report indicates instead that holes located lower on the shirt represented the likely point of entry for the bullet. The improper manner in which the evidence was handled makes it unclear how or when the evidence was altered.”
Mance claims that Green’s original defense team were negligent by not noting the change in critical evidence at trial and that the prosecution violated his client’s rights when it introduced evidence that was tampered with.
After the autopsy, Jordan’s shirt was released into the possession of a law enforcement officer who gave it to an employee of a company that provided services for funeral homes. The shirt was then buried because of the smell, according to Mance’s filing. Only after the exhumation and transportation of the clothing was the bullet hole discovered, Mance states.
his week’s court filing says the absence of a hole in the right chest area contradicts the prosecutors’ theory that Jordan was lying in his car when he was shot. “It also gave strength to the defense theory that there was an altercation between Demery and Mr. Jordan, which was kept from the jury,” the court filing says.
The state Attorney General’s Office is reviewing Wednesday’s filing , a spokeswoman said Thursday.
The basketball great’s father was killed on July 23, 1993, in Robeson County. His body was found in a South Carolina swamp.
Green and Larry Demery were convicted after Demery testified at their trial in 1996 that Green shot Jordan as he slept in his luxury car beside Interstate 95. Green has long claimed his innocence.
Green has admitted that he drove James Jordan’s Lexus and wore his watch as well as an NBA championship ring he was given by his son. He also admitted he helped dump Jordan’s body in the swamp.
Michael Jordan, now the owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, is one of the greatest professional basketball players of all time. He led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships, and in 1982, his game-winning shot led the North Carolina Tar Heels to the NCAA championship over Georgetown.
Staff writer Mike Gellatly contributed to this report. He can be reached at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly.