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

Witnesses selected for March 26 execution

March 19, 1999

Raleigh - Central Prison Warden James French named six official witnesses and five media witnesses for the March 26 execution of James David Rich.

The office witnesses are District Attorney Charles B. Victory III, assistant district attorneys Matthew Delbridge and Imelda Pate, Claud S. Ferguson, Sheriff Limmie Smith and Deputy Johnny Burns.

Media witnesses are Dawn Bryant, the Greenville Daily News, Cliff Clark, The Standard Laconic in Snow Hill, Carla Alligood from WNCT-TV in Greenville, Bob Costner of WSJS Radio in Winston-Salem and Estes Thompson from the Associated Press.

Rich is scheduled to be executed at Central Prison at 2 a.m., Fri., March 26 by lethal injection. Greene Superior Court sentenced Rich to death on Aug. 28, 1995 for the murder of 45-year-old Paul Sanford Gwyn, an inmate at Eastern Correctional Institution in Maury.

Under the 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 of the Carolinas selected the broadcast reporters and the N.C. 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.

Eleven 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.

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


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