North Carolina Department of Correction news release

JANUARY 26, 1998

Sanderson execution witnesses selected

Raleigh - Central Prison Warden James French named six official witnesses and five media witnesses for the Jan. 30 execution of Ricky Lee Sanderson.

The official witnesses are District Attorney Eugene Morris, Jr., Assistant District Attorney Patricia Bruce, Assistant District Attorney Chris Collier, Hugh Holliman, Lt. Michael Phillips and Sheriff Gerald Hege.

Media witnesses are Martin Kady, The Winston-Salem Journal, Karen Hillenbrand, The Lexington Dispatch, Robert Marshall, WFMY-TV Greensboro, Mike Mottern, WLFL-TV Raleigh, and Estes Thompson from the Associated Press.

Sanderson is scheduled to be executed at Central Prison at 2 a.m., Fri., Jan. 30 by lethal gas. Iredell Superior Court sentenced Sanderson to death on Nov. 3, 1995 for the murder of Sue Ellen Holliman. Ricky Lee Sanderson asked that all his appeals be dropped.

Under the Department of Correction policy, the district attorney and sheriff in the county of conviction nominated the six official witnesses. These witnesses may include members of the victim’s family. A 1997 amendment to state statute now insures the crime victim’s family the right to witness the execution. The six official witnesses sign an affidavit of execution following the execution.

The Radio Television News Directors Association of the Carolinas selected the two 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 in Central Prison’s visitor center.

Eight 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. Gardener 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.