Along with accomplice Wesley Harris, Ward went to the home of
Dorothy Mae Smith and ambushed her as she was returning from closing
a convenience store. Smith was shot five times and $4,000 was taken.
Ward was arrested on other charges and gave a complete confession.
Ward's cooperation led to the arrest of Harris. $1000, a .32 handgun,
and a .22 rifle were found in Harris' car. Harris was tried first
and sentenced to Life Imprisonment.
State v. Ward, 449 S.E.2d 709 (N.C. 1994) (Direct Appeal).
Ward v. North Carolina, 115 S.Ct. 2014 (1995) (Cert. Denied).
Ward v. French, 989 F.Supp. 752 (E.D.N.C. 1997) (Habeas).
Ward v. French, 165 F.3d 22 (4th Cir. 1998).
T-bone steak (well done), Tossed Salad w/French Dressing, French
Fries, Texas Toast, Ice Tea.
North Carolina Department of
Raleigh - Execution Date Set For David Junior
Ward - Correction Secretary Theodis Beck has set Oct.12 as the
execution date for death row inmate David Junior Ward (#0423876).
The execution is scheduled for 2 a.m. at Central Prison.
An execution date for Ward was originally set for
June 25, 1999, but a stay of execution was granted by the North
Carolina Supreme Court on June 9, 1999. That stay was lifted Aug.
Ward, 40, was sentenced to death April 14, 1992
in Pitt County Superior Court for the April 3, 1991 murder of
Dorothy Mae Smith.
A media tour at Central Prison is scheduled for
Monday, October 8 at 10 a.m. This will be the only time the news
media will be allowed to photograph the execution chamber and death
watch area before the execution.
Interested reporters and
photographers should be at Central Prison’s visitor center promptly
at 10 a.m. During the tour, Warden R.C. Lee will explain execution
procedures. The session will last approximately one hour. Reporters
who plan to attend the media tour should call the Department of
Correction Public Information Office at number above.
David Ward was sentenced to death April 14, 1992
in Pitt County Superior Court for the April 3, 1991 murder of
Dorothy Mae Smith during a robbery. Dorothy and her husband, Seymour
Smith, owned a convenience store.
On 3 April 1991 the victim and her brother closed
the store around 10:30 p.m. Dorothy filled a money box with $4,000
in cash and an undetermined number of checks. She collected her
personal belongings--including fruit, crackers, a comb, and a
magazine--which she placed in a white plastic bag.
She also picked
up her husband's .38 caliber pistol. She got in her pickup truck and
headed toward her house a short distance down the road from the
store; her brother followed her home. At the house Smith turned into
the driveway and went to the back of her house; her brother stopped
in the road and watched until he saw her brake lights turn on.
At about 10:30 p.m. the Smith's next-door
neighbor heard sounds that at first he thought were exploding
firecrackers, but he immediately realized they were gunshots--five
shots fired in rapid succession. He went outside to investigate and
saw only Dorothy's pickup parked at the back door of her house.
He saw no one, and becoming concerned, he and a friend went to the
Smith house, where they discovered Dorothy's body lying on the
ground near the back door. There was blood coming from the back of
her head, and she did not respond when they called her name. They
phoned 911 for assistance.
Police arrived and found no vital signs in
Dorothy. The deputies observed Dorothy's body, fully clothed, lying
close to the back door of the house, with her feet nearest the house,
her head away from the house, and a set of keys and prescription
glasses on the ground near her hand.
They found an apple, some fruit,
crackers, a comb, a deed, and four spent shell casings strewn in the
driveway. Later, they found a .32 caliber bullet and a .22 caliber
bullet at the base of an air conditioning unit, also near the house.
The medical examiner testified that Dorothy had
been shot five times with small caliber firearms. She found gunshot
wounds on the left side of the back of the head and neck area, on
the left arm near the shoulder, on the left side of the chest, on
the left side of her body near the back and just below the waist,
and on the left arm.
All the gunshots had been fired from a distance
exceeding three to four feet from Dorothy. The wound to Smith's head
would have been immediately incapacitating and the wounds to the
chest and shoulder fatal if left untreated.
The bruise on the right
side of Smith's forehead, as well as the bruise to her right elbow,
led Dr. Gilliland to conclude that Smith was immediately
incapacitated by the gunshot wound to the head and died very quickly.
Further, the angle of the other wounds, in conjunction with the
bruises, led her to conclude that the head wound occurred after the
David Junior Ward was soon arrested on unrelated
charges and gave the following account: Ward stated that he came to
Greenville and got up with Wesley Harris. Ward said Harris said he
had a job to do that night and said they were going to rob Seymour
Smith's wife when she closed the store.
He stated that they went by
the store and she was there so they rode around until it got dark.
Ward said about 10:00 p.m. that they parked Harris's blue Saab car
on the road that runs off between the store and the Smith house.
"We ran across the road and got in the bushes
next to the driveway. I had a rifle and Wesley had a pistol. The
rifle was a .22 caliber and the pistol was a .32 caliber. When Mrs.
Smith pulled in the driveway and pulled around back and got out of
the truck, we started shooting.
Wesley ran and got the money box
after she fell and we ran across the road and got in the car and
left. We put the money in the ditch near Empire Brushes. We got a
money box and a white plastic bag. I called a cab and went to my
girlfriend's house near Belvoir. Before I could get up with Wesley
the next day, the cops got me." David said Wesley kept both guns
that were used.
National Coalition to Abolish
the Death Penalty
David Ward Scheduled Execution Date and Time:
10/12/01 12:00 am EST.
David Junior Ward, a 40-year-old death row inmate
in North Carolina, is scheduled for execution on October 12th, 2001.
On April 3rd, 1991, David Ward met up with Wesley
Harris in Greenville, North Carolina. Harris asked Ward to come with
him on a “job he had to do.”
His plan was to rob Dorothy Mae Smith upon her
return home with the cash from her husband’s convenience store.
Under the influence of crack-cocaine, Ward agreed to assist Harris
with his plan.
Wesley Harris provided himself and Ward with guns,
and the two men hid, armed, in the bushes in front of Smith’s home,
awaiting her arrival home from the store. When she pulled up that
night around 10:30 pm, the two men jumped from the bushes, both
firing their weapons.
Evidence shows that although both guns were fired,
only bullets from one struck and killed Dorothy Mae Smith. David
Ward has consistently maintained that he purposely shot off to the
side so as not to strike Smith, and court records state that there
were bullet holes found at the base of an air conditioning unit
attached to the house, although it was never determined which gun
Following the murder and robbery, Wesley Harris
collected Smith’s cashbox with all of the money and hid the weapons
they used at his apartment. Ward never received any of the money
from the robbery.
The following day, David Ward was apprehended for
questioning and immediately confessed his involvement in the robbery,
and led authorities to the home of Wesley Harris, where they found
the money and weapons from the robbery. Ward cooperated fully with
the police, voluntarily waiving his rights to remain silent or have
an attorney present during questioning. The only evidence of David
Ward’s participation in the crime is his own confession.
Both suspects were charged with robbery and first-degree
murder. Wesley Harris was tried first for the crime, convicted, and
given a life sentence. David Ward was tried a month later.
His appointed legal counsel had practiced mostly real estate law, had
not been involved in a felony criminal case in over five years, and
had never before defended a 1st degree murder suspect. Although the
defense submitted fourteen non-statutory mitigating circumstances,
David Ward was convicted and given the death penalty.
Ward had none
of the money from the robbery on him when he was apprehended, and
there was no evidence that he spent any of it, but he was still
given a sentence of death based on the one aggravating factor of the
case, that Ward had participated in the murder/robbery for his own
“pecuniary [financial] gain.”
In twelve out of thirteen recent North Carolina
cases involving the same one aggravating factor, pecuniary gain,
defendants were given a life sentence. This fact leads to the
conclusion that the death penalty was assigned to David Junior Ward
arbitrarily, in direct opposition to Constitutional law.
It is additionally important to discuss Ward’s
background. David Ward was raised in poverty, working on local farms
with his father picking cucumbers and tobacco from the age of nine.
His father passed away when he was fifteen (an event that caused him
profound emotional distress) Ward assumed the position of head of
his household, providing for his mother and seven siblings, dropping
out of school in the eleventh grade.
Ward became a father in 1984,
and, although it is difficult, attempts to both financially support
and maintain a close relationship with his daughter Kevette and her
mother, through correspondence and visits to the prison.
Alert People Faith Against the
The Casualness of a Death Sentence: David Ward
Set to Die 10/12 in NC.
In many ways it is no wonder why NC Gov. Mike
Easley granted clemency to Robert Bacon and gave no reason. If he
talked about the racism of the trial and sentencing, the
disproportionate sentencing, the inadequate counsel, he would be
describing the need for a moratorium on executions in North
Carolina, which he opposes. So he granted clemency and said nothing.
On at least two of those issues he would be setting a precedent that
would affect David Junior Ward, who is scheduled to be poisoned to
death on behalf of the people of North Carolina at 2 a.m., Friday,
October 12, 2001 in Raleigh.
Please read the following account of David Ward's
case prepared by his attorneys and contemplate how North Carolina's
justice system, which handled probably more than 500 homicides in
1991, deemed David Ward the worst of the worst.
encourage your congregation and your minister to pray and preach
about David Ward and ourselves during services, and get people to
contact the governor for clemency, and write your lawmakers, and
your local newspapers.
We can't stop because the killing isn't stopping.
What graver example of our utterly broken system of capital
punishment can you find than in the story of David Ward?
Because his crime does not exhibit any of the
gross aggravating factors which have previously characterized
sentences of death in our state, David Ward's execution would
represent a new "casualness" in imposition of death sentences in our
state, a hardened attitude which has become entrenched in other
The disparity of Ward's death sentence with the
life sentence of his codefendant is an example of the unfair, uneven,
and random imposition of the death penalty. It is also an example of
how the luck of the draw of counsel can affect the death sentencing
In April 1991, David Ward went to visit Wesley
Harris in Greenville, NC. Harris told Ward that he had "a job to
do," that he wanted Ward to help him rob Dorothy Mae Smith. Harris
had a plan, based on his knowledge that Smith's husband was in jail
on drug charges. Ward went along with Harris's plan.
Wesley Harris supplied the weapons and drove
himself and Ward to Smith's home, where they waited for her to
return with the receipts from her convenience store business. Smith
was shot and killed at her back door. Two guns were fired, but only
the bullets from one gun struck Smith.
Ward has consistently
maintained that he deliberately fired to the side and did not shoot
Smith. Harris then took the cashbox and all the money. Ward never
complained about Harris receiving all of the proceeds from the
robbery. Harris his the guns in his apartment and discarded the
The following day Ward was questioned bylaw
enforcement officials about some other matters and promptly
confessed to his role in the robbery and murder. He told the police
where he could find the weapons and helped them locate and arrest
Harris and Ward were both charged with murder and
robbery. Harris was tried first, convicted, and received a life
sentence. At Ward's trial a month later, the judge did not allow the
jury to hear testimony regarding Harris's life sentence. The only
evidence of Ward's involvement was his own confession.
Ward's appointed lead trial counsel had a small
town general practice, consisting primarily of real estate closings.
His proactive included some criminal work, but he had never handled
a first degree murder case. He asked to be relieved from the
appointment because he did not feel he was qualified to handle a
He was briefly allowed to withdraw, and was then
reappointed, being told by a judge that no other lawyer was
available. Assistant counsel was a young lawyer one year out of law
school, also inexperienced in capital cases at that time. Neither of
Ward's trial attorneys would qualify as death case counsel under the
new rules of the NC Commission for Indigent Defense Services.
The jury returned a death sentence, based on the
single aggravating factor of "pecuniary gain" even though there was
no evidence that Ward obtained any money from the crimes not proof
that he ever intended to benefit financially.
The jury's decision
could only be based on an inference of an intent to benefit from
commission of the crime. It is rare for a North Carolina jury to
recommend death where a defendant was not the main perpetrator of
the crime, where there was no torture or abuse of the victim before
death, and no other aggravating factor beyond "pecuniary gain." The
Robert Bacon and Ward cases are the first two such cases in which
death sentences resulted.
On appeal, the NC Supreme Court found that Ward's
death sentence was not disproportionate to Harris's life sentence,
despite Harris's role as the architect of the crime, supplier of the
weapons, and recipient of all the proceeds, and despite Ward's
confessions of his own participation and his help in apprehending
The NC Supreme Court also the pattern of 12 previous life
sentences in murders with the single aggravating factor of pecuniary
gain, a pattern which indicates that North Carolina juries do not
ordinarily return death sentences in such cases.
For more than three years, Ward was denied the
benefit of the new discovery provisions enacted for death row
inmates. Finally, just before a scheduled execution in June 1999,
the NC Supreme Court stayed the execution and ruled that Ward was
within the scope of the discovery law.
The state continued to fight
against discovery, until the NC Supreme Court explicitly ruled that
the documents must be provided.
When counsel reviewed the law enforcement files,
in September 2000, they found two witness statements that had not
been provided to Ward's trial counsel. Trial counsel was not even
aware of the existence of the witnesses.
These two witnesses stated
that they had been with codefendant Harris in the hours after the
murder and robbery, that Harris had a great deal of cash, and was
spending it freely.
They confirmed that Ward was not with Harris
during this time. The suppressed testimony would have been a strong
showing of Ward's lack of involvement in any "pecuniary gain" from
Ward's motion regarding the suppressed witness
statements was quickly denied, without a hearing, by Judge Russell
Duke, Jr., of Pitt County, who merely signed an order drafted by the
state. The NC Supreme Court denied review of that decision.
Although the North Carolina statutes provide that
an execution date should only be set after a defendant has had an
opportunity to seek review in both state and federal courts, the NC
Secretary of Correction set a new execution date for Ward of Oct.
12, 2001 without allowing federal court review of the federal
The NC Supreme Court has refused to review
that decision. The state is moving forward with the Oct. 12
execution date without permitting a stay for federal court review of
the issues raised by the suppressed witness statements.
Life History of David Junior Ward
David Junior Ward was born in 1961 in a rural
area of Pitt County, near the Tar River, before it becomes the
Pamlico, and the Beufort County line. He is the oldest of eight
children. Throughout David's childhood the family was poor.
father endeavored to support his wife and children by working on
nearby farms. To help support the family, David joined his father in
the fields, picking cucumbers from age 9 and harvesting tobacco from
The home where David grew up appears to have been
filled with strong emotions and passionate conflict. Those feelings
sometimes exploded in violent fights which often left the combatants
bleeding and occasionally required hospitalization.
did not discourage these fights, his father often laughing off the
incidents. Only on occasion would his father administer some form of
punishment, almost always consisting of a beating.
being whipped with a belt "at the time that everybody else got beat
with drop cords." David does not feel he was abused, and describes
his childhood as typical and happy.
David felt close to his father, whom he describes
as a good role model who did not abuse his wife or children, and who
did not use drugs. When his father died, David was fifteen. In
response to the death, David first withdrew from others, becoming
At the same time he was forced to begin
assuming the role of head of the household, shouldering the
responsibility of providing case and money to his mother, brothers,
David worked for a while on a tobacco farm, then
became a janitor at his school, working in the morning and attending
classes in the afternoon. In the 11th grade he quit school because
he was "burned out" from the dual commitment.
David still regrets
leaving school, which he now looks back on as enjoyable. During this
period, David also had the duty of caring for his grandmother, who
was blind. On regular morning visits to her home, he would fix her
breakfast and clean the house.
Through the years David moved from job to job,
mostly manual labor and farm work. At one point he worked for an
asbestos removal company, but decided to leave because he thought
the work was making him sick.
Most of the money David earned was
given to his mother for the family's support. David's troubles with
the law began as a teenager. He stared using drugs at 13 and later
turned to stealing cars and robbing stores to pay for his drug habit.
On some occasions this activity landed him in jail.
In 1983 David began dating Rosa Lee Knight. A
year later their daughter Kevette was born. Although difficult,
David has tried to maintain a close relationship with Kevette and to
provide support for both mother and daughter. Kevette and David send
letters back and forth, and she has come to visit him in prison.
David Ward remains committed to his mother, who recently suffered a
stroke, but is recovering. David's courtroom outburst at his trial
was in response to his perception that the district attorney was
badgering his mother on the witness stand.