LUMBERTON — The judge who oversaw the trial of one of the two men convicted in the killing of James Jordan, father of basketball legend Michael Jordan, believes if evidence available at the time was presented the trial would have been different.
In an affidavit presented in the post-conviction appeal of Daniel Green, former Superior Court Judge Gregory Weeks states that if he had known that local drug dealer Hubert Deese was the son of then Robeson County Sheriff Hubert Stone, that Deese was a drug trafficker, and that Green’s accomplice, Larry Demery, worked with Deese at a mobile home park, a crucial decision in the case could have gone in Green’s favor.
Demery and Green were both convicted in the death of Jordan, who was shot and killed on July 23, 1993, on U.S. 74 just outside of Lumberton. Green has always contended that he was not involved in the death. Demery pleaded guilty to being a party to the crime and testified against Green during trial.
Green’s defense lawyers are seeking an evidentiary hearing to evaluate evidence they contend should have been available to the defense at trial. They want a new trial for Green.
Green’s defense team has tried to present a theory that the murder could have been a “drug deal gone wrong” because a call was placed from Jordan’s phone by Demery to Deese in the aftermath of the crime. However, at the trial Judge Weeks concluded that the call could have been a wrong number and was of “no relevance,” according to filings in the case.
“If (District Attorney Johnson) Britt had shared the information he had in his possession at the time — specifically, that Deese was Stone’s son; that Deese was a drug trafficker; that Deese and Demery both worked at Crestline Mobile Homes; and that law enforcement officers actively facilitated Deese’s drug trafficking — I would not have held that this information had ‘no relevance’ to the case and would have permitted defense counsel to pursue it,” Weeks said in a sworn statement.
Green’s attorneys have put forth a theory that then Sheriff Hubert Stone tried to steer the multi-agency investigation toward kidnapping and robbery, and away from a drug investigation.
In years following the trial the State Bureau of Investigation discovered significant corruption within the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office.
Robeson County Superior Court Judge Robert Floyd said he will consider Weeks’ statement in deciding whether or not to grant a hearing on the evidence, but that it was not evidence to be considered at that hearing. Floyd held the same position on the affidavit of Pamela Locklear, the foreperson of the jury that convicted Green.
Locklear admits she conducted her own investigation into the case while testimony was going on, doing so in violation of an order from the court.
“She said she went to South Carolina, where the body was found, and she did her own investigation … she formed her own opinion of the case, one different than was presented at trial,” attorney Scott Holmes said. “If that is true, it would require a new trial.”
The claim of the juror was made public months ago, said Ian Mance, lawyer with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. However, Wednesday’s hearing was the first time the information was discussed in open court.
Green’s attorneys have 60 days to file any further affidavits in pursuit of the evidentiary hearing. After that the Attorney General’s Office has 30 days to respond.
Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or via Twitter @MikeGellatly