Murderpedia

 

 

Juan Ignacio Blanco  

 

  MALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  FEMALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 

 

 
   

Murderpedia has thousands of hours of work behind it. To keep creating new content, we kindly appreciate any donation you can give to help the Murderpedia project stay alive. We have many
plans and enthusiasm to keep expanding and making Murderpedia a better site, but we really
need your help for this. Thank you very much in advance.

   

 

 

Henry Lee HUNT

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Murder for hire - Attempt to collect insurance money
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: September 8/14, 1984
Date of arrest: October 1984
Date of birth: November 22, 1944
Victims profile: Jackie Ransom / Larry Jones (police informant)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Robeson County, North Carolina, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in North Carolina on September 12, 2003
 
 
 
 
 
 

Summary:

Hunt was convicted in the 1984 slaying of Jackie Ransom for $2,000 at the direction of Ransom's wife, Dottie Ransom, who planned to cash in her husband's $25,000 insurance policy.

A few days later, Hunt killed police informant Larry Jones, who was talking to police about the Ransom killing.

Elwell Barnes, also convicted of the murders, died of natural causes in prison in 2001.

Barnes' brother, A.R. Barnes, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of conspiracy and served seven years and eight months in prison.

Dottie Ransom pleaded guilty to conspiracy. She was married to Jackie Ransom and Rogers Locklear at the same time. Rogers Locklear also pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Only Dottie Ransom remains alive.

Citations:

State v. Hunt, 582 S.E.2d 593 (N.C. June 16, 2003) (State Habeas).
Hunt v. Lee, 291 F.3d 284 (4th Cir.2002), Cert. denied 123 S.Ct. 619 (2002) (Habeas).
State v. Hunt, 345 N.C. 758, 485 S.E.2d 304 (1997), Cert. denied, 118 S.Ct. 163 (1997).
State v. Hunt, 336 N.C. 783, 447 S.E.2d 436 (1994) (PCR).
State v. Hunt, 330 N.C. 501, 411 S.E.2d 806 (1992), Cert. Denied 112 S.Ct. 3045 (1992).
Hunt v. North Carolina, 494 U.S. 1022, 110 S.Ct. 1464, 108 L.Ed.2d 602 (1990).
Hunt v. North Carolina, 323 N.C. 407, 373 S.E.2d 400 (1988). (Direct Appeal)

Final Meal:

A medium Domino's pizza with pepperoni, hamburger, Canadian bacon, sausage, onions, mushrooms and green peppers, and a 20-ounce Coke.

Final Words:

"It's a good day to die."

ClarkProsecutor.org

 
 

North Carolina Department of Correction

DOC Number: 0197656

Execution date set for Henry Lee Hunt

RALEIGH - Correction Secretary Theodis Beck has set Sept. 12, 2003 as the execution date for inmate Henry Lee Hunt. The execution is scheduled for 2:00 a.m. at Central Prison in Raleigh.

On Dec. 20, 1985, Hunt was sentenced to death in Robeson County Superior Court for the September 1984 murders of Jackie Ransom and Larry Jones. Hunt also received two 10-year sentences for two counts of conspiracy to commit murder.

The warden of Central Prison, Marvin Polk, will explain the execution procedures during a media tour scheduled for Monday, Sept. 8 at 10:00 a.m. Interested media representatives should arrive at Central Prisonís visitor center promptly at 10:00 a.m. on the tour date. The session will last approximately one hour.

The media tour will be the only opportunity to photograph the execution chamber and deathwatch area before the execution. Journalists who plan to attend the tour should contact the Department of Correction Public Information Office at (919) 716-3700 by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, Sept 5.

 
 

ProDeathPenalty.com

Henry Hunt, 58, was sentenced to death on December 20, 1985 in Robeson County Superior Court for the September 1984 murders of Jackie Ransom and Larry Jones.

Hunt also received two 10-year sentences for two counts of conspiracy to commit murder. Elwell Barnes, who also was convicted in the murders, died in prison Sept. 19, 1991, of natural causes, according to state Department of Correction records.

According to investigators, Roger Locklear and his wife, Dorothy Ransom, hired Hunt and Barnes to kill Jackie Ransom so they could collect on a $25,000 insurance policy. Investigators say Jackie Ransom married Dorothy Ransom while Locklear was away working. She had not divorced Locklear. A witness testified that Hunt and Barnes killed Jackie Ransom for $2,000. Ransom's body was found Sept. 9, 1984, in woods off Elm Street. He was shot in the head, lawmen said.

Hunt and Barnes killed Jones, a police informant, six days later because he was talking to police about Ransom's death, according to court records. Jones' body was found in a shallow grave near Fairmont. He was shot multiple times. Joe Freeman Britt was the district attorney who tried the case. "It was a vicious sort of murder," he said. He declined to comment further.

In an affidavit filed in December 2002, Hunt said he had nothing to do with either murder. He said he was with his girlfriend, drinking beer and relaxing after a hard week of work. Hunt worked as a roofer. During the appeals process, Hunt's lawyers argued that Hunt's counsel "did little or nothing to prepare for the trial." They argued that Hunt's lawyers failed to present mitigating evidence during the sentencing phase.

The evidence included Hunt's impoverished and violent childhood and that he is emotionally and mentally disturbed. There was just one witness to the killing, and accounts of the crime have been inconsistent, McIntosh said. According to records from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Hunt's lawyers thought "the risk of revealing more about Hunt's criminal background outweighed the benefit that could be obtained from the evidence." Hunt had an extensive criminal record and was a suspect in another murder case, the court record stated. Hunt was involved in several armed robberies and was sent to prison for blowing up his mother's house.

Garth Locklear was the chief investigator for the Robeson County Sheriff's Office. He was investigating Hunt's involvement in another murder case before learning about the killings of Jones and Ransom, he said. "Hunt is the most dangerous man I have ever known in Robeson County," he said. "I was up against the wall trying to develop a case against the man for murder because of his reputation. I could not get people to talk about him. It was power that he had. People lived in fear. Henry Hunt held the power of life and death over a segment of people."

Locklear said lawmen had a strong case against Hunt. "Mr. Britt would not take a capital murder case unless we definitely have the person," he said. "When the case goes before the jury the evidence would be overwhelming. The only question the jury has to answer is whether to sentence the person to life or death."

Rosie Jones won't be a witness to the execution of a man convicted of killing her son. She wants it all behind her. "It is now between him and judgment," she said. "I am not going to say, 'Kill him.' The family is over that now, and it is in God's hands. That's the way I am going to leave it. We have been through enough with the murder trial. God has freed me from this."

 
 

N.C. executes man for two slayings after stay dissolved

By Estes Thompson - Charlotte Observer

AP September 12, 2003

RALEIGH, N.C. - A man who challenged the mixture of drugs used in executions went stoically to his death for two slayings early Friday after courts and the governor rejected his appeals. "It's a good day to die," was the final statement of Henry Lee Hunt, 58, who was executed by injection at Central Prison in Raleigh.

Hunt, a Lumbee Indian, was the first American Indian to be executed by the state of North Carolina since capital punishment resumed in 1977. A total of 25 have been executed in that period and 201 inmates remain on death row. Lethal doses of drugs began flowing into Hunt just after 2 a.m. and he was pronounced dead at 2:17 a.m.

Hunt's lawyers had challenged the state's mixture of drugs but the state Supreme Court rejected the challenge and overturned a lower court stay. The U.S. Supreme Court also rejected Hunt's appeals and Gov. Mike Easley refused to change the sentence to life in prison.

Hunt was sentenced to death for two 1984 slayings, one the contract killing of a man whose wife wanted him dead and the other of a police informant in Robeson County. District Attorney Johnson Britt said the killings had weighed on the minds of the victims' families for Robeson for 19 years. "We can truly say that justice has been served in this case," Britt said after watching Hunt die.

Hunt's supporters pointed to an affidavit from co-defendant Elwell Barnes in which Barnes said he was guilty, not Hunt. The affidavit didn't become known until after Barnes died in prison and courts have rejected it. "The death penalty is wrong," said James Jones, a Robeson County man who was among more than 50 death penalty opponents outside the prison. "Innocent people can be put to death. If it wasn't for DNA, think how many innocent people might have died." Hunt's brother, R.D. Hunt, said the execution brought a sense of relief and finality to his family. "My brother is a warrior," R.D. Hunt said. "My brother is a warrior in heaven now."

As he was wheeled on a gurney into the execution chamber, Hunt looked through a thick glass window at his son and another brother, among the 15 witnesses watching the execution. The relatives wore yellow head bands like those Hunt usually wears and Hunt winked at them. Other witnesses included Hunt's lawyers, his priest and four retired investigators from Robeson County.

The execution went forward after the state Supreme Court sided with prosecutors Thursday and vacated a stay issued by a Robeson County judge who said execution procedures should be reviewed. Defense lawyers had asked the courts to review whether the state should use two drugs, not the three it now uses, for lethal injections. Justices said the Legislature didn't intend to limit the drugs or chemicals that can be used when it included the word "only" in the statute enacted in 1998.

The intent was to outlaw lethal gas and use only injection, the court said. Hunt's lawyer argued that state law requires the use of two types of drugs - a fast-acting barbiturate and a paralytic agent. Attorney Steven Holley said the state illegally added potassium chloride, which stops the heart, to the mixture.

This was the second time Hunt had received a stay of execution that eventually was overturned by the state's highest court. In January, lawyers won a stay while the court decided that the state's indictment form was constitutional.

Jurors convicted Hunt in the death of Jackie Ransom, whose wife paid to have him killed to make her second marriage legal. He also was convicted of killing Larry Jones, a police informant prosecutors said knew about Ransom's killing. Four other people were sentenced to prison for their roles in the killings. All but one has since died.

 
 

N.C. Executes Henry Lee Hunt for Two Slayings After Stay Dissolves

Winston Salem Journal

AP September 12, 2003

RALEIGH - A Robeson County man convicted of two 1984 slayings was executed by injection Friday, hours after the state Supreme Court dissolved a lower court's stay.

Henry Lee Hunt, 58, was pronounced dead at 2:17 a.m. at Central Prison in Raleigh, according to the state Department of Correction.

The execution went forward after the state Supreme Court sided with prosecutors Thursday afternoon and vacated a stay issued on Tuesday by a Robeson County judge who said execution procedures should be reviewed.

Defense lawyers had asked the courts to review whether the state should use two drugs, not the three it now uses, for lethal injections. Justices said the Legislature didn't intend to limit the drugs or chemicals that can be used when it included the word "only" in the statute enacted in 1998. The intent was to outlaw lethal gas and use only injection, the court said. The court denied Hunt's innocence claim as well.

Gov. Mike Easley also denied clemency for Hunt late Thursday, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his other appeals. "I find no convincing reason to grant clemency and overturn the unanimous jury verdicts affirmed by the state and federal courts," Easley said in a statement denying Hunt's request.

Hunt's lawyer argued that state law requires the use of two types of drugs _ a fast-acting barbiturate and a paralytic agent. Attorney Steven Holley said the state illegally added potassium chloride, which stops the heart, to the mixture. Hunt, who has been held in the death watch area across the hallway from the death chamber, visited with his family and attorneys Thursday afternoon, said prison officials.

Hunt has maintained his innocence and produced an affidavit signed by a codefendant who died awaiting execution. The affidavit, which had been rejected by courts earlier because its origins couldn't be documented, said Elwell Barnes committed the killings. "I'll maintain my innocence until the day I die," Hunt has said.

This was the second time Hunt had received a stay of execution that eventually was overturned by the state's highest court. In January, lawyers won a stay while the court decided that the state's indictment form was constitutional.

Jurors convicted Hunt in the death of Jackie Ransom, whose wife paid to have him killed to make her second marriage legal. He also was convicted of killing Larry Jones, a police informant prosecutors said knew about Ransom's killing.

Four other people were sentenced to prison for their roles in the killings. All but one has since died.

 
 

Stay Lifted; Killer is Put to Death

Two high courts decline to spare the life of Henry Lee Hunt, and Gov. Mike Easley refuses to grant clemency

By Matthew Eisley - Charlotte News & Observer

September 12, 2003

RALEIGH, N.C. - Convicted double murderer Henry Lee Hunt was executed by lethal injection early today, after Gov. Mike Easley denied him clemency and two courts declined to spare him. Hunt's execution was reinstated Thursday afternoon when the state Supreme Court lifted a Robeson County judge's temporary stay.

The judge had ordered the stay to allow time to consider whether the state's method of lethal injection is legal. The Supreme Court ruled that it is.

The Supreme Court also refused to consider Hunt's major claim: that new evidence indicated he was innocent. Local trial judges this week and in January also rejected that claim, which never got a full hearing. The U.S. Supreme Court denied Hunt's final two appeals late Thursday, then Easley denied clemency. Hunt was executed at 2:17 a.m. at Central Prison.

Hunt, 58, was sentenced to death for the 1984 contract killing of Jackie Ransom near Lumberton and for the subsequent slaying of potential witness Larry Jones. Prosecutors, state appellate lawyers and several courts have said there was overwhelming evidence of Hunt's guilt.

Hunt's lawyers argued that several things raised serious questions about Hunt's guilt: an affidavit purporting to clear Hunt of the crime, Hunt's having passed recent lie-detector tests, the lack of physical evidence linking him to the murders and the destruction of case files by the Lumberton Police Department and the State Bureau of Investigation.

Attorney General Roy Cooper, who oversees the SBI and whose office fought to uphold Hunt's conviction and sentence, wouldn't say Thursday whether he thought Hunt was guilty. Hunt's brief stay was his second reprieve this year. His execution was halted in January when the state Supreme Court agreed to consider whether Hunt's indictment form was sufficiently detailed. The court ruled in July that the indictment was acceptable, which allowed the rescheduling of his execution.

About 5 p.m. Thursday, Hunt had his last meal: a medium Domino's pizza with pepperoni, hamburger, Canadian bacon, sausage, onions, mushrooms and green peppers, and a 20-ounce Coke, said Pam Walker, Depart-ment of Correction spokeswoman.

At issue in Hunt's stay this week was the trio of drugs the state uses in all its executions: one to put the inmate to sleep, a second to stop breathing and a third to stop the heart. State statutes making lethal injection the method of execution appear to authorize the use of two kinds of drugs.

The first statute says, "Any person convicted of a criminal offense and sentenced to death shall be executed only by the administration of a lethal quantity of an ultrashort-acting barbiturate in combination with a chemical paralytic agent." The second says, "[T]he mode of executing a death sentence must in every case be by administering to the convict or felon a lethal quantity of an ultrashort-acting barbiturate in combination with a chemical paralytic agent until the convict or felon is dead."

Hunt's lawyers had argued that the laws authorized only two of the three drugs the state uses: thiopental sodium, a sedative under the brand name Pentothal, which puts the inmate to sleep; and pancuronium bromide, a muscle relaxant with the brand name Pavulon, which stops breathing. The third drug, potassium chloride, stops the heart. Experts for Hunt and the state disagreed about whether it, like Pavulon, is a paralytic agent.

In ordering the stay Tuesday, Robeson Superior Court Judge Gary Locklear said the Department of Correction's use of three drugs instead of two appeared to violate the statutes. The state Supreme Court said not. In the first statute, it ruled, the word "only" limits the state's method of execution to lethal injection but does not restrict the drugs that can be used.

Lest grammarians disagree, the Supreme Court added this point to its ruling: Whatever the details, the General Assembly has approved lethal injection. Quoting from one of its 1979 cases, the court said, "Where a literal interpretation of the language of a statute will lead to absurd results, or contravene the manifest purpose of the Legislature, as otherwise expressed, the reason and purpose of the law shall control and the strict letter thereof shall be disregarded." And with that, Hunt's fate was all but sealed, 19 years after the two murders.

 
 

National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Henry Hunt, (NC) - Sept. 12, 2003

The state of North Carolina is scheduled to execute Henry Lee Hunt Sept. 12 for two murders that occurred 19 years ago in Robeson County. Hunt, a Native American man, allegedly shot Jackie Ransom on Sept. 8, 1984, and Larry Jones five days later.

He passed two polygraph examinations concerning his involvement in the murders, and has maintained his innocence throughout his time on death row.

Elwell Barnes, who was also convicted of the murders, later stated in an affidavit that he, his brother A.R. Barnes, and several others killed both Ransom and Jones, and that Hunt had nothing to do with either murder.

Several errors in the investigation and prosecution complicate the verdict and sentence. Both the State Bureau of Investigation and the Lumberton Police Department destroyed records that may well have aided Huntís innocence claim; neither explained the admitted destruction.

At trial, prosecutors withheld critical information Ė which would have damaged its case Ė from the defense; the state still refuses to turn over much of that evidence despite repeated requests to do so.

Furthermore, there have been questions raised regarding whether North Carolina's indictment procedure is in violation of the constitution. The Supreme Court of Arizona has banned short-form indictments, stating that an indictment must list all aggravating factors against the defendent for presentation to a jury.

According to prosecutors, Hunt shot Jackie Ransom to earn $2,000 from Ransomís wife, who was plotting to collect the victimís $25,000 life insurance policy.

In the week following the murder, Hunt allegedly learned that Larry Jones, his girlfriendís cousin, had been discussing the Ransom case with police investigators, so he then shot him to protect himself. Despite his claims of innocence, Huntís jury found him guilty of two counts of murder and two counts of conspiracy; the state sentenced him to death in 1985.

No physical evidence links Hunt to the crimes, and much of the testimony used against him at trial came from other people involved in the murders. Dorothy and Roger Locklear, the original conspirators in the plot to kill Ransom for his $25,000 life insurance policy, pled guilty to minor charges and spent less than five years in prison.

A.R. Barnes, who was initially hired to murder Ransom, failed a polygraph after his apprehension and confessed to the crime; he later retracted his confession and pinned the murders on his brother, Elwell Barnes, and Henry Hunt.

After testifying at Huntís trial, he pled guilty to conspiracy and served less than eight years in prison. Jerome Ratley, supposedly the lone eyewitness to Huntís murder of Larry Jones, described details that experts found completely inconsistent with the physical evidence. He walked away with no charges against him.

In the United States, over 100 people have been exonerated from death row since the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976. This pending execution could very well be another innocence case, and clearly the danger of killing this man for a crime he may not have committed should outweigh the stateís desire to continue its use of the death penalty. Please write the state of North Carolina and request clemency for Henry Lee Hunt.

 
 

Hunt Goes Calmly to his Death

By Greg Barnes - Fayettesville Observer

September 13, 2003

RALEIGH - Henry Lee Hunt died by lethal injection shortly after 2 a.m. Friday, calm but defiant to the end. ''It's a good day to die,'' Hunt told prison officials before being wheeled on a gurney into the execution chamber at Central Prison.

In a tiny room adjoining the chamber, 15 witnesses waited to watch Hunt be executed for killing two Robeson County men 19 years earlier. ''Lord be with us,'' said the Rev. Jude Siciliano, Hunt's Catholic priest, who sat at the end of two rows of blue plastic chairs. For the next few minutes, no sounds passed, other than the tireless ticking of an overhead clock in a room lit by a single bulb.

At 1:50 a.m., two prison officials brought Hunt into the chamber, his arms strapped to the gurney, his jet- black hair slicked straight back. Rubber intravenous tubes running from Hunt's right arm were tucked under a cream-colored curtain behind him. More silence.

At 1:53 a.m., the 58-year-old Hunt winked at Siciliano, who held up a leather Indian medicine bag and began to wave it rhythmically. Hunt looked down the row, finding his brother Wilbert and son Donald Ray at the other end. The brothers exchanged thumbs-up signs. More silence before Hunt appeared to mouth, ''I love you,'' his lips quivering slightly.

At 1:57 a.m., Warden Marvin Polk entered the witness room to announce that he would soon talk to the secretary of the Department of Correction. ''If no further instructions, the execution will proceed as scheduled,'' Polk said, then turned and walked out.

Four minutes later, Hunt's head jerked up, his eyes went momentarily wide and he began what appeared to be a prayer or a chant. He exhaled, turned his head and gasped. Once. Twice. Then nothing. Wilbert Hunt put his arm around his nephew. The priest made a sign of the cross. Hunt's chest muscles flexed, his throat constricted.

Eight minutes of silence passed. At 2:17 a.m., the curtain in front of the viewing window closed and Hunt was pronounced dead - the 387th prisoner to be executed by the state of North Carolina, and the first American Indian since the death penalty resumed in 1977.

Johnson Britt, the Robeson County district attorney, had never seen an execution before. He sat in the middle of the back row, arms crossed over his chest. Moments after it ended, Britt spoke briefly. ''We can truly say that justice has been served,'' he said. Britt called Henry Lee Hunt one of the meanest people who ever lived in Robeson County. ''This man was at the top of the list,'' Britt said. ''That was the reputation he had and still has to this day.''

Hunt was convicted of two murders - those of Jackie Ransom and Larry Jones in 1984 - but former Lumberton police investigator Mike Stogner said he believes Hunt killed five people. ''There has never been a more guilty man on death row,'' Britt said.

Testimony during one of the longest trials in Robeson County history showed that Ransom's wife, Dottie Ransom, hired Hunt to kill her husband so she could collect a $25,000 insurance policy. Hunt, who was to be paid $2,000, killed Jones a few days later, after learning that Jones had been talking to police about Ransom's murder. Britt, who was not the district attorney during the trial, said Hunt's guilt was never in question. The only question, he said, was the punishment.

Stogner, who also witnessed the execution, said police and sheriff's investigators followed a winding trail that led to Hunt's gun. The bullets that killed Jones and Ransom matched the gun. Hunt borrowed the car that Jones was shot in, Stogner said. An eyewitness testified that he saw Hunt shoot Jones. Hunt's girlfriend testified that he told her he killed Ransom. The jury, Britt and Stogner said, was handed a no-brainer.

On Dec. 20, 1985, that jury sentenced Hunt to die. Hunt's meanness never abated in prison. Department of Correction records show that he committed 30 infractions behind bars, including one in which he struck an inmate with a shank.

Britt said Bernice Cummings, the girlfriend who testified against Hunt, became so afraid of him ''that she kept coming to my office trying to be reassured that this man was not going to get out.'' Britt said witnessing Hunt's execution did nothing to change his mind about the death penalty. ''It was exactly what I thought it was going to be like,'' he said. ''It was very much like watching a child go to sleep. No real emotion. He did not appear to suffer at all.'' The process, Britt said, was a far cry from what death penalty opponents would have wanted him to believe.

Gerda Stein of Citizens for Justice did not watch Hunt's execution. Instead, she held vigil with a group of about 50 other protesters just off the prison grounds. Some held banners, others candles. A few banged on drums and recited Indian chants. Stein represented them well. She is opposed to the death penalty, partly because she believes violence to repay violence makes no sense. Even spanking, in her mind, has never been an option. It wasn't how she grew up. It isn't, she believes, the way to deal with problems.

But that's only part of the equation. Stein fights against the death penalty largely because she believes innocent people could die. Hunt, she said, may have been one of them. In the 19 years Hunt remained in prison, he had always maintained his innocence. Stein said she visited Hunt four times in prison. Never in all those visits did Hunt do or say anything to indicate his guilt, she said.

Stein pointed to the trial when making her case. Everyone who testified had something to gain, she said, including the eyewitness, who was never charged with a crime even though he was present when Jones died. Hunt was not the only person charged with murder. Brothers Elwell and A.R. Barnes were also charged. The charges against A.R. Barnes were later reduced to conspiracy. Elwell Barnes was sentenced to death, but received a life sentence later and died of natural causes in prison.

In 1999, an affidavit bearing Elwell Barnes' signature surfaced. In it, he takes responsibility for killing Jones and Ransom and denies that Hunt had any involvement. The affidavit was dated 1989. Elwell Barnes could neither read nor write. Superior Court Judge Jack Thompson said the affidavit lacked credibility and dismissed a defense motion that a hearing be held to introduce the new evidence. The state Supreme Court upheld the ruling, and another judge this week rejected a second motion to hear the evidence.

Like many of Hunt's supporters, Stein thought the affidavit was dismissed out of hand. She also thought Hunt's defense team deserved to be able to conduct further DNA testing of a Kool cigarette butt found where Jones was buried.

The State Bureau of Investigation tested the butt and concluded that not enough DNA existed to determine who might have smoked it. During the trial, prosecutors said it belonged to Hunt. The defense had lined up a university professor who thought he could identify who smoked the cigarette if allowed to conduct more advanced DNA testing. The courts refused.

Hunt also passed two polygraph tests conducted by a technician who had administered hundreds of them, Stein said. She said the tests convinced the technician to oppose the death penalty. Stein said she could never know for sure whether Hunt is innocent or guilty, but that's not really the point. The point, Stein said before Hunt's execution, is that the state could be about to execute an innocent man.

Shortly after her brother's execution, family members led Bitty Hyatt arm-in-arm down from the hill, where she had joined the protesters to pray. ''It was not fair,'' said Hyatt, a Lumberton resident. ''They took his life for nothing. Robeson County is as crooked as a barrel of fish hooks.'' Like Hyatt, Hunt's family and friends stuck by his side to the end. One veteran of 19 executions said he had never seen so many people turn out to support a condemned killer.

In January, five days before Hunt was originally scheduled to die, more than 100 people attended a rally to oppose the death penalty, many of them Hunt's family members. About the same time, Hunt granted a Fayetteville Observer reporter an interview. He told her he was a changed man, a Christian who read the Bible from cover to cover every year.

Hunt again maintained his innocence, saying he was never the man that former sheriff's investigator Garth Locklear called ''the most dangerous man I have ever known in Robeson County.'' That quote, which came during Hunt's trial, has always enraged family members. They think Locklear, like them a Lumbee Indian, railroaded Hunt into the death penalty. Locklear joined other present and former investigators at the execution. Afterward, he spoke briefly about Hunt as family members looked on. ''He died like a man, like he always was,'' Locklear said. If anything good can come out of this, Locklear said, he hopes it will lead American Indians to stop killing each other.

Outside, R.D. Hunt spoke fondly about his family and his brother. ''They are glad it's over now because he's free. He's finally free. ''My family knows he's in heaven and nobody got to hear a cry or a squall they thought they'd get to hear. My brother is a warrior and still is. He's a warrior in heaven now.''

 
 

Hunt Executed for 1984 Slayings

By Greg Barnes - Fayettesville Online

September 12, 2003

RALEIGH - A Robeson County man convicted of two 1984 slayings was executed by injection Friday, hours after the state Supreme Court dissolved a lower court's stay.

Henry Lee Hunt, 58, was pronounced dead at 2:17 a.m. at Central Prison in Raleigh, according to the state Department of Correction. At 1:58 a.m., the prison warden entered the witness room and said the execution would proceed. Hunt looked at his minister, his son and brother, at one point winking at them. He appeared to say "I love you." At about 2:01 a.m. he raised up and looked at the ceiling and began what looked to be a prayer.

Hunt's execution had been blocked since Tuesday, when Robeson County Superior Court Judge Gary Locklear ruled that the Supreme Court would have to decide whether the state could continue using three drugs to carry out executions. Hunt's lawyers had argued that a state statute stipulates that only two drugs - a fast-acting barbiturate and a paralytic agent - can be used in lethal injections.

The Supreme Court ruled that the word "only" in the statute "does not reflect a legislative intent to limit the drugs or chemicals that can be used during a lethal injection execution, but rather limits the method of execution in North Carolina solely to lethal injection instead of asphyxiation by lethal gas or some other method."

The ruling came about 2 p.m. Thursday. In it, the Supreme Court also denied allowing Hunt to present any more evidence and revoked his motion claiming innocence. Gov. Mike Easley denied clemency for Hunt late Thursday, two hours after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his appeals. "I find no convincing reason to grant clemency and overturn the unanimous jury verdicts affirmed by the state and federal courts," Easley said in a statement. Hunt was moved Wednesday from death row at Central Prison to the death-watch area next to the execution chamber.

Although his death sentence had been stayed at that time, prison officials continued operating as though he would be executed on schedule. Final meal: About 5 p.m. Thursday, Hunt was served his final meal - a medium pizza with several meats, onions, mushrooms and green peppers, and a Coke.

Throughout the day, Hunt's family members were allowed into the watch area, where they could have physical contact with the 58-year-old Robeson County man for the only time since he was sentenced to death almost 18 years ago. Henry Lee Hunt's family, who waited in the parking lot in front of Central Prison, learned about 9:30 p.m. that Easley had denied clemency. "All the girls are pretty tore up," said R.D. Hunt, Henry Lee's brother. "Well, the boys, too, but they're trying to hold it in. You've got to be strong."

Some of the men wore yellow sashes on their heads, an Indian custom, R.D. Hunt said. Yellow is Henry Lee Hunt's spiritual color. Annie Ruth Wassil, a sister of Henry Lee Hunt's, said, "I hope Gov. Easley hurts like I hurt. And I hope he goes months and months without sleeping, like I have." Hunt was the first American Indian executed in North Carolina since the state re-established capital punishment in 1977. About 50 death penalty opponents took part in another American Indian ritual Thursday night in front of the prison.

J.R. Ghosthorse of Asheville, who is Lakota and Apache, burned sage and attached several scarves to a branch in a creche he had set up by the curb. With song and a drumbeat, he led the crowd in a ceremony, called a tate topa - the ceremony of the four winds - for Hunt. A woman waved an eagle's wing. R.D. Hunt visited his brother four times Thursday. He last saw him shortly before 11 p.m. Hunt was at peace, he said, even joking during some of the visits. "He's going to heaven," R.D. Hunt said. "He's going to be in good company. He's going to be with Jesus and all his disciples."

Hunt was convicted in the 1984 slaying of Jackie Ransom for $2,000 at the direction of Ransom's wife, Dottie Ransom, who planned to cash in her husband's $25,000 insurance policy. A few days later, Hunt killed police informant Larry Jones, who was talking to police about the Ransom killing. Hunt has maintained his innocence since his arrest in 1984.

Another Lumberton man, Elwell Barnes, also was convicted of the murders. An affidavit bearing Barnes' signature surfaced late last year. In it, Barnes takes responsibility for the murders and clears Hunt. The affidavit was dated 1989. Barnes died of natural causes in prison in 2001. Superior Court Judge Jack Thompson ruled in January that the affidavit lacked credibility and was inadmissible in a new hearing. The Supreme Court upheld his ruling, and Judge Locklear refused Tuesday to hear Hunt's motion for due process on the issue.

Hunt was given one other stay of execution. He was originally scheduled to die in January, but the execution was stopped when lawyers challenged the state's indictment form. In July, the state Supreme Court ruled the form constitutional and rescheduled the execution for this morning.

Three other Robeson County residents were also convicted in the case. Barnes' brother, A.R. Barnes, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of conspiracy and served seven years and eight months in prison. Dottie Ransom pleaded guilty to conspiracy. She was married to Jackie Ransom and Rogers Locklear at the same time. Rogers Locklear also pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Only Dottie Ransom remains alive.

Staff writer Paul Woolverton and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

 
 

Prosecutors Want Court to Lift Hunt Stay

By Greg Barnes - Fayettesville Online

September 11, 2003

Prosecutors asked the state Supreme Court on Wednesday to lift the stay of execution for Henry Lee Hunt. Superior Court Judge Gary Locklear ordered Tuesday that Hunt's execution, scheduled for 2 a.m. Friday, should be blocked until the Supreme Court or the General Assembly decides whether potassium chloride can be used in killing him.

A state statute specifies that only two drugs can be used for lethal injections - a quick-acting barbiturate and a drug that causes paralysis. For humane reasons, the state Department of Correction has added potassium chloride to the mix of drugs used in lethal injections, the only form of execution now allowed in North Carolina. Hunt's lawyer, Steven Holly, argues that state law forbids the use of potassium chloride. Without it, however, Hunt would be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment because he could be conscious while the execution is carried out, Holly said.

Hunt was sentenced to death in Robeson County in 1985 for killing Jackie Ransom and Larry Jones. According to the state, Hunt killed Ransom for $2,000 of a $25,000 insurance policy.

He killed Jones because he was talking to police about the murder. On Wednesday, officials at the Department of Correction moved ahead as if Hunt will be executed as scheduled early Friday. Prison spokesman Pam Walker said pre-execution procedures were taking place even though Hunt cannot be executed as long as the stay is in place. That stay could block the executions of all 202 prisoners on death row until the potassium chloride issue is resolved.

In its petition to the Supreme Court, Barry McNeill, special deputy attorney general, argued that Locklear did not have jurisdiction to consider the issue or enter a stay of execution. McNeill also argued that the Department of Correction is not illegally using potassium chloride, which 26 other states currently use.

He contends that the drug meets the state law's criteria of a ''chemical paralytic agent,'' a finding backed by a toxicologist in the state Medical Examiner's Office. Holly said David R. Work, executive director of the state Board of Pharmacy, believes that potassium chloride is neither a barbiturate nor a paralytic agent.

Ashley Joyner, a deputy clerk of the Supreme Court, said the court has received McNeill's petition but had not acted on it by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

 
 

People of Faith Against the Death Penalty

NC to Execute Henry Hunt Despite Evidence of Innocence - Alert from People of Faith Against the Death Penalty

Henry Lee Hunt, a Native American from Robeson County, NC, is scheduled to be executed September 12, 2003 for the 1984 murders of Jackie Ransom and Larry Jones ó murders that the facts show he likely did not commit. On September 26, 2003 Joseph Bates is also scheduled to be poisoned to death. Information the Bates case is also below.

The following background information was prepared by Henry Lee Huntís legal defense team. To date, the State has been unable and unwilling to explain the following regarding Henry Lee Hunt:

- Hunt, who has consistently asserted his innocence, has passed two polygraph examinations regarding the murders, both administered by a respected professional.

- Huntís alleged co-conspirator, Elwell Barnes, later stated in an affidavit that he, his brother A.R. Barnes and others ó but not Hunt ó committed both murders, and that Hunt had nothing to do with either murder.

- Both the State Bureau of Investigation and the Lumberton Police Department destroyed case records that may well have backed Huntís claim of innocence ó in the latter case, after Huntís appeals lawyers filed a request for law-enforcement files. Neither of the agencies has ever explained the admitted destruction.

- Prosecutors withheld crucial information from the defense at trial that would have seriously damaged its case against Hunt. Outrageously, with Hunt facing death, the state still refuses to turn over all of the evidence in its possession despite repeated requests. The Superior Court recently granted Huntís motion to compel the State to produce the materials.

- Almost everyone who testified for the prosecution was either directly involved in the murders or had other reasons to deflect blame onto Hunt. Rogers Locklear, who helped conceive the plot to kill Jackie Ransom for insurance money, pled guilty to conspiracy and served less than five years in prison. A.R. Barnes, who was hired to kill Mr. Ransom, was arrested after the murder, failed a polygraph examination and confessed. The confession was consistent with facts about the killing that he could not easily have known unless he had committed it. A.R. Barnes then recanted and pinned the murder on Elwell Barnes and Henry Hunt. After testifying against Hunt, A.R. Barnes was allowed to plead guilty to conspiracy and serve less than eight years in prison.

- In some cases the testimony against Hunt was plainly false. Jerome Ratley, an admitted participant in the murder of Larry Jones who was presented by prosecutors as the only alleged eyewitness, described details that experts say cannot be reconciled with the physical evidence in the case. Ratley was not charged with any crime.

- No physical evidence ties Hunt to either crime.There was trial testimony that he gave the gun used in the two murders to his son-in-law for safekeeping. That testimony, which could have been and would now be refuted, was not credible for a variety of reasons, most notably that the witness was facing prison for a parole violation and was subject to pressure from law enforcement authorities. After he testified against Mr. Hunt, the charge disappeared.

- In an effort to present physical evidence to the jury, prosecutors introduced a shovel they claimed Hunt had allegedly used to bury one of the victims; the jury never learned that the soil found on the shovel did not match the soil in which the victim had been buried and therefore could not have been used as the State claimed.

- Huntís trial lawyers put on none of the evidence that tended to show innocence, in part because they did not know the evidence existed.

For more information, please contact Stuart Meiklejohn, attorney for Hunt (212-558-3665), or Gerda Stein of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation (919-956-9545.)

 
 

Editorial: And justice for all?

Greensboro News & Record

January 23, 2003

Had the North Carolina Supreme Court not been compelled to stay his execution, Henry Lee Hunt's life would have ended before today's N.C. Actual Innocence Commission began.

The court issued Hunt's stay Wednesday so it can hear arguments in April on the constitutionality of his indictment. Meanwhile, Gov. Mike Easley this week was hearing clemency appeals for Hunt. Neither the governor, the court, nor the rest of the state can be certain Hunt deserves to die.

Because North Carolina has punished others under similarly uncertain circumstances, recommendations from the Commission's judges and criminal justice experts on ways to avoid wrongful convictions are at once visionary and sadly overdue. Mistakes made in death cases like Hunt's are the same ones that corrode criminal trials and result in false convictions for lesser crimes. But the the finality of the punishment only magnifies the failures.

Consider: Police first arrested another man, A.R. Barnes, for the two murders charged to Hunt. Barnes failed a polygraph test (making him a likelier suspect), then confessed and offered evidence consistent with the crime scene. Later, Barnes recanted and implicated Hunt. Police chose to believe Barnes' second statements.

During Hunt's trial, prosecutors withheld evidence -- such as an informant's statement implicating other men and removing Hunt's motive for one murder - that would have undermined their case. After the trial, investigators simply "lost" field notes and other files.

The state still refuses to let lawyers see what evidence remains. Hunt's lawyers, with minimal time to prepare, failed to raise crucial objections (such as pointing out that dirt on a shovel prosecutors offered as evidence did not match that of the victim's grave), meaning that many facts could not be revisited later.

In short, Hunt may have been wrongly convicted, the kind of mistake the commission's proposals could prevent without taxing or hindering law enforcement.

Some members have suggested doing away with line-ups, where victims or witnesses "finger" the perpetrators - too often, erroneously. Reformers want a person unconnected to the case to present pictures one at a time so the prosecution and defense later can be sure there was no subtle coercion or steering toward the chief suspect.

Expanding the SBI crime lab would alleviate the shameful neglect of samples from rape victims and crime scenes.

Reformers also ought to look at taping whole interrogations as opposed to just confessions. As the Central Park jogger case recently proved, suggesting something to someone who can't leave for 21 hours can make even the innocent confess. Moreover, taping confessions would cut down on coerced statements and confessions, protecting both suspects and police.

Refreshingly, refining the justice system is a concept that unites both conservatives and liberals. Polls have shown that even capital punishment supporters and victims' advocates don't want innocent people executed. If implementing these changes would make such errors more rare, bring them on.

 
 

State v. Hunt, 582 S.E.2d 593 (N.C. June 16, 2003) (State Habeas).

BRADY, Justice.

Henry Lee Hunt (petitioner), convicted of two capital murders over seventeen years ago, challenges the lawfulness of the charging instruments used to indict him for first-degree murder. These instruments, known as "short-form indictments," have been used to charge murder suspects under North Carolina law for over a hundred years.

This appeal therefore raises a question of critical importance to the legal validity of virtually every murder conviction secured in this state over the past century. The dispositive issue in the present case is whether the United States Supreme Court's recent decision in Ring v. Arizona, renders North Carolina's short-form murder indictment unconstitutional. We conclude that it does not and therefore affirm the decision of the trial court.

Petitioner is currently incarcerated on North Carolina's death row. On 28 May 1985, petitioner was indicted in Superior Court, Robeson County, on two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the killings of Jackie Ray Ransom and Larry Jones. Petitioner was indicted pursuant to short-form murder indictments authorized by N.C.G.S. ß 15-144.

Petitioner was tried and convicted on all counts at the 18 November 1985 session of Superior Court, Robeson County.

 
 

Hunt v. North Carolina, 323 N.C. 407, 373 S.E.2d 400 (1988). (Direct Appeal)

Codefendants were each convicted of two counts of murder and conspiracy to commit murder, and were sentenced to death for each murder charge and ten years' imprisonment for each conspiracy charge, in the Superior Court, Robeson County, Giles R. Clark, J., and codefendants appealed. The Supreme Court, Webb, J., held that: (1) pretrial publicity did not require change of venue or special venire; (2) defendant was not prejudiced by remarks of prospective jurors; (3) consolidation of trials and charges was not erroneous; (4) evidence was sufficient to show that defendant aided and abetted in both murders; (5) evidence was sufficient to show that defendant conspired in both murders; (6) prosecutor's statement that defendant was "professional assassin" was not plain error; (7) prosecutor's statement from Bible about putting murderers to death was not plain error; (8) submission to jury of aggravating factor that felony was committed for purpose of avoiding or preventing lawful arrest or effecting escape from custody was not erroneous; (9) submission to jury of aggravating factor that capital felony was committed for pecuniary gain was not erroneous; (10) defendant's death sentence for both murders was not disproportionate; and (11) codefendant's death sentence for both murders was not disproportionate. No error. Exum, C.J., filed concurring opinion. Frye, J., filed opinion dissenting as to sentence.

Henry Lee Hunt, Elwell Barnes and A.R. Barnes were tried for the murder and conspiracy to commit murder of Jackie Ransom. In the same trial Hunt and Elwell Barnes were tried for the murder and conspiracy to commit the murder of Larry Jones.

Evidence at the trial tended to show that Dottie Locklear Ransom had first married Rogers Locklear. Locklear was a construction worker and often worked out of town for several days at a time. Dottie began seeing Jackie Ransom while Locklear was out of town. She eventually married him, although she never divorced Locklear. Ransom began living with her while Locklear was out of town, and would leave the house when it was time for Locklear to return.

In July 1984, Dottie asked Locklear about the possibility of insuring Ransom's life and then having him killed. She wanted to buy a trailer and a cafe. On 3 August 1984 she purchased a $25,000 life insurance policy. She asked the agent whether, if Ransom were killed in a fight, she would be entitled to double indemnity for accidental death. Dottie asked Locklear to find a hit man to kill Ransom. Locklear asked his brother Harry to run over Ransom with his car. Harry refused, but told Locklear that if he wanted a hit man he should see A.R. Barnes.

On 16 August, Locklear met A.R. Barnes and gave him a ride to Locklear's house. After some negotiation Rogers and Dottie Locklear agreed to pay A.R. Barnes $2,000 to kill Jackie Ransom. A.R. Barnes said "If I don't kill him, I'll get it done." Locklear and A.R. met several times after that.

On 8 September, Locklear went to A.R.'s house to see if he was going to kill Ransom, and to tell him the insurance policy had been received. Locklear did not see A.R., but saw his brother, the defendant Elwell "Babe" Barnes. Elwell Barnes asked Locklear if he could take his brother's place, and kill Ransom for the same compensation Locklear had promised his brother. Locklear replied that it was up to him.

Elwell Barnes then told Locklear to drive him to the home of the defendant Henry Lee "Mulehead" "Buck" Hunt. When they arrived at Hunt's trailer, Barnes talked with Hunt privately for about 10 minutes. Later, Hunt got into the car, put his hand on his pocket and told Locklear "I got the gun. Me and Babe can get the job done." Barnes replied "Yeah." They drove past a house and Hunt looked at it and said "That looks like where Jackie stay, there." They then drove down a road into some woods and Hunt put the gun in some bushes. They then drove back into town, and Locklear pointed out Jackie Ransom. Hunt told Locklear to get his wife and take her to a place at which there would be witnesses.

At about 11:00 or 11:30 that night the defendants Hunt and Elwell Barnes returned to Hunt's trailer. Hunt took off his clothes and put them in the washing machine, and put a pistol under his mattress. Barnes spent the night on the couch. The next morning Bernice Cummings, who lived with Hunt at his trailer, asked Barnes where they had been the night before. Barnes replied that they had killed Jackie Ransom for $2,000, for Dottie and Rogers Locklear. Bernice asked who shot Ransom and Barnes replied "Henry Lee Hunt."

Later that day Locklear drove to Hunt's trailer. Hunt walked up to him and said "I killed Jackie last night." He said he wanted his money in 30 days or he would kill Dottie and Locklear. Later that day, Ransom's body was found in a shallow grave. An autopsy revealed that Ransom died from a gunshot wound to the head.

The next day, 10 September, the defendants were at Hunt's trailer. Buddy Roe Barton drove up. Hunt went to Barton's car and returned after a few minutes, and stated that Larry Jones was running his mouth, and that he "would put a stop to his damn mouth." Larry Jones lived with Hunt's sister Aganora. He met several times with Detective Mike Stogner of the Lumberton Police Department and SBI Agent Lee Sampson and talked about Ransom's death.

On 14 September, Hunt told Bernice Cummings that he was going to "kill that water-headed, ratting son-of-a-bitch Larry Jones" and wanted to get a shovel so he would "bury him where he never could be found." He stated that Jones had been running his mouth and that he knew that Hunt had killed Ransom. Hunt procured a shovel from Mitt Jones and put it in his trunk. Later, Hunt got a shotgun and put it in the trunk of Bernice's car. Hunt said to Aganora and Bernice that he was going to kill Larry Jones because Jones knew he killed Jackie Ransom, and could get him a life sentence.

Later that day Hunt and Elwell Barnes were riding in an automobile driven by Jerome Ratley when they picked up Jones. They went to the home of a person called "String Bean." They left that place and continued driving. Hunt told Ratley to turn off onto a dirt road, then onto a tram road. Then Hunt told Ratley to stop and turn off the lights. Hunt then turned around and shot Jones in the chest. Ratley saw two or three shots. Hunt said "You don't eat no more cheese for no damn body else. I'll meet you in heaven or hell, one." Hunt then pulled Jones out of the car, and Barnes got the shotgun from the trunk. Jones started mumbling "Mule, Mule." Barnes pointed the shotgun at Jones' head. Hunt said "Don't shoot him with the shotgun," and shot him with the pistol several times. Barnes kept a lookout while Hunt and Ratley dragged Jones' body into the woods about a hundred yards and buried him in a shallow grave. As they rode back into town, Barnes said "That man was about to cause me to pull a life sentence."

The next morning, 16 September, Hunt told Bernice Cummings that he had carried Larry Jones to where he would never be found. On 1 October, Jones' body was found. An autopsy revealed that he died of a gunshot wound to the head. A ballistics expert testified that bullets removed from the body were fired from the .25 caliber Beretta that Hunt had given his son-in-law after the murders.

While in jail, Hunt told his son-in- law he had killed Ransom and Jones. He also told him to get rid of the gun, and to get his brother to "get rid of the black guy," meaning Jerome Ratley, because "He's the one that can hurt me most."

At the close of all the evidence, the trial court granted a mistrial as to A.R. Barnes. The jury returned verdicts of guilty on all counts as to Elwell Barnes and Hunt, and recommended that both be sentenced to death for each murder charge. The court sentenced them to death for each murder charge and ten years imprisonment for each conspiracy charge.

* * *

The jury found as to Henry Lee Hunt two aggravating circumstances in the murder of Jackie Ransom. These were that he had previously been convicted of a felony involving the threat of violence to the person and that the murder of Jackie Ransom was for pecuniary gain. The jury found two aggravating circumstances in the murder of Larry Jones by Henry Lee Hunt. These were that he had been previously convicted of a felony involving a threat of violence to the person and that the murder was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest.

The jury found as to Elwell Barnes two aggravating circumstances in the murder of Jackie Ransom. These were that he had previously been convicted of a capital felony and the murder was committed for pecuniary gain. The jury found two aggravating circumstances in the murder of Larry Jones by Elwell Barnes. These were that he had previously been convicted of a capital felony and that the murder of Larry Jones was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing a lawful arrest. The record supports the finding of these aggravating circumstances.

* * *

We deal next with the murder of Jackie Ransom by Henry Lee Hunt. The same consideration applies to him as to Elwell Barnes. This was a contract killing and more. The jury found that he had previously been convicted of a felony involving the threat of violence to the person. The jury found that he murdered a second person within a week of the murder of Jackie Ransom. He showed no remorse for the killing. The death sentence was not disproportionate.

As to the murder of Larry Jones by Henry Lee Hunt, again the same consideration applies to Henry Lee Hunt as to Elwell Barnes. Juries have been consistently returning death sentences in witness elimination murders and this case is more than a witness elimination murder. The defendant had murdered another person six days before he murdered Larry Jones. He showed no remorse for the murder of Larry Jones. The death sentence was not disproportionate. In the trial of both defendants, we find NO ERROR.

 

 

 
 
 
 
home last updates contact