In North Carolina’s Robenson County Superior Court sits a voluminous motion filed on the behalf of Daniel Green, seeking a new trial in the murder of James Jordan. The 2015 motion details a range of issues—from police corruption to evidence tampering to false testimony and juror misconduct.
“This case is complicated. If I had to pick one word, I’d say, it’s complicated,” said Attorney Chris Mumma, of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence. “It’s complicated because there is a lot of moving parts and it’s a high profile case. When you get those two things combined, that’s where you’re really at risk.”
Green is currently serving life in prison for the murder of the father of the world’s most famous athlete, Michael Jordan. Green was convicted in 1996 after he and his childhood friend were charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and conspiracy. That friend, Larry Demery got 40 years after testifying in court that Green was the trigger man.
Green’s motion and supporting exhibits of trial transcripts and affidavits consist of hundreds of supporting documents gathered over 25 years of Green’s doggid persistence of innocence. In addition to Mumma, Green’s defense team is made up of Ian Mance of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Scott Holmes, a professor at the North Carolina Central School of Law.
Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt who prosecuted the case, stands by the conviction. He characterizes the case as a “strong circumstantial case,” saying “Daniel Green was in control.”
“He drove the car with the body,” Britt said. “He drove to the location to dump the body. He made the calls. The .38 was found at his house. He rapped on the videotape with the stolen jewelry.”
Britt added the recent post-trial motion is, “grasping at straws” and he hopes that a hearing will put an end to the “post-conviction circus.”
The North Carolina Attorney General’s office is reviewing the court filing and has not yet made a decision on whether to grant Green a new trial.
Recent court filings by Green’s attorneys claim that someone tampered with James Jordan’s shirt after an autopsy had been performed. The autopsy report performed by Dr. Joel Sexton of Newberry, South Carolina indicates that he found no hole in the shirt that corresponded with the bullet wound in the upper chest area. Yet during the trial, when Agent R.N. Mars of the State’s Bureau of Investigations (SBI) testified, he told the jury that there was a hole in the upper chest area, contradicting Sexton’s report. The court filing says that the lack of a hole in the shirt to match the bullet wound contradicts the prosecutor’s theory that James Jordan was asleep and lying down in his Lexus when he was shot. “This discrepancy would have greatly strengthened the defense argument that Demery’s version of events was false,” the court filing says. It would have bolstered the defense theory that an altercation occurred between Demery and Jordan.
Court filings say that the state’s forensics expert, Jennifer Elwell of State Bureau of Investigations, testified that she found blood in Jordan’s Lexus. She later recanted in a sworn affidavit that she did not know what the substance was. After the Green trial, the State Bureau of Investigation was audited by Attorney General Roy Cooper in 2015, and the audit revealed that the forensic lab withheld or distorted evidence in more than 200 cases. Court filings in Green’s motion also claim that Elwell was ordered by a supervisor to destroy the only known sample of Jordan’s blood after the trial.
One theory disclosed in court filings questions Hubert Stone, Robeson County Sheriff at the time; and other law enforcement officers who worked the murder investigation. One key piece of evidence, which led police to the boys were the cell phone calls made from James Jordan’s cell phone. One of the first calls was to Hubert Deese, who worked with Larry Demery. Deese is a convicted cocaine trafficker. New evidence discovered by Green’s defense team found that Deese is the biological son of Sheriff Stone. Police never questioned Deese. Green’s defense team believes that Green took the fall to protect the Sheriff’s son.
Green’s motion for a new trial includes a sworn statement from the former jury forewoman, Paula Locklear who says that during the trial, she did her own investigation, violating a judge’s order. Locklear says she visited the South Carolina creek where the body was discovered and formulated her own theory on how the murder occurred.