North Carolina Department of Correction

Witnesses selected for September 18 execution

September 14, 1998

Central Prison Warden James B. French named the six official witnesses and five media witnesses for the September 18 execution of James David Rich.

The official witnesses are District Attorney Charles B. Vickory, III, Assistant District Attorney Matthew L. Delbridge, Claude S. Ferguson, Robert L. Gwyn, Sheriff Ted D. Sauls and Deputy Johnny Burrus.

Media witnesses are Jay Price, the News and Observer, Raleigh; Cliff Clark, the Standard Laconoic, Snow Hill; Carla Alligood, WNCT-TV, Greenville; Bob Costner, WSJS Radio, Winston-Salem; and Martha Waggoner, the Associated Press.

Rich is scheduled to be executed at Central Prison at 2 a.m., Fri. Sept.18 by lethal gas. Greene Superior Court sentenced Rich to death on Aug. 28, 1995 for the murder of inmate Paul Gwyn.

Under Department of Correction policy, the district attorney and sheriff in the county of conviction nominate the six official witnesses. These witnesses may include members of the victim's family. A 1997 amendment to the state statute ensures the crime victim's family the right to witness the execution.

The Radio Television News Directors Association of the Carolinas selected the broadcast reporters and the North Carolina Press Association selected the two print reporters. Following the execution, the media witnesses are required to relate their experience to other reporters immediately in Central Prison's visitors center.

Ten people have been executed since 1977 when the death penalty was reinstated:

James W. Hutchins of McDowell County was executed March 16, 1984.

Velma Barfield of Bladen County was executed Nov. 2, 1984.

John W. Rook of Wake County was executed Sept. 19, 1986.

Michael V. McDougall of Mecklenburg County was executed Oct. 18, 1991.

John S. Gardner Jr. of Forsyth County was executed Oct. 23, 1992.

David Lawson of Cabarrus County was executed June 15, 1994.

Kermit Smith of Halifax County was executed January 24, 1995.

Phillip Ingle of Rutherford County was executed Sept. 22, 1995.

Ricky Lee Sanderson of Iredell County was executed Jan. 30, 1998.

Zane Brown Hill of Buncombe County was executed Aug. 14, 1998.


The Death Penalty and the North Carolina Department of Correction

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