James B. Hunt, Jr., Governor
Theodis Beck, Secretary
Patty McQuillan, Director of Public Information (919) 733-4926

July 30, 1999


Raleigh - Central Prison Warden R.C. Lee named six official witnesses and five media witnesses for the Aug. 6 execution of Joseph Timothy Keel.

The official witnesses selected by the District Attorney’s office in the Seventh Prosecutorial District are: Mack Daniel Simmons, Jr., Linda Jean S. Moore, Jennifer Simmons Becknell, and Bobby Dale Smith. The two media witnesses from the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Department are Lt. Jerry Wiggs and Sgt. Donald Lynn.

Media witnesses are Connie Rhem of The Wilson Daily Times in Wilson, Thomas McDonald of The Daily Southerner in Tarboro, Mark Roberts from WRAL-TV in Raleigh, Steve Adams from WEEB Radio in Southern Pines and Estes Thompson from the Associated Press.

Keel is scheduled to be executed at Central Prison at 2 a.m., Fri., Aug.6 by lethal injection. Edgecombe Superior Court sentenced Keel to death on March 30, 1993 for the murder of his father-in-law, John Simmons, on July 10, 1990.

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 N.C. Press Association selected the two print reporters. The Associated Press selects its own wire service representative. Following the execution, the media witnesses are required to relate their experience to other reporters immediately in Central Prison's visitor center.

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

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

Velma M. 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 Jan. 24, 1995.

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

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

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

John T. Noland of Mecklenburg County was executed Nov. 20, 1998.

James David Rich, Greene County, was executed March 26, 1999.

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