Friday, November 12, 2004

The Carrboro Contingency

Recent news articles say “Woman’s killer is executed” and remind readers that a defenseless 92-year-old widow was brutally struck in the head during an attempted robbery. No questions of guilt surround the murder of Doris Poore. Frank Ray Chandler murdered her, that much is certain.

The courts determined that Chandler’s execution should stand and Governor Easley didn’t get in the way of what the jury prescribed for an obviously violent felon. Yet some persons clung to a desperate hope that clemency might be granted in this case. One has to wonder why?

Among those clinging to a desperate hope is the “Carrboro Contingency” which claims that the death sentence should not have stood because a key witness collected a $2500 reward for his damning testimony. These objections don’t include any evidence that indicates that the witness in question was untruthful in court. Also according to the “Contingency”, persons who defended Chandler claim that they used drugs with this same key witness. Are such claims a ”double stab” of sorts at attempting to claim ineffective counsel or undermine a witness’s credibility or a “win at all costs” (even at the expense of the truth), to save a client, kind of defense strategy? Unrelated actions by a prosecutor are brought into the argument to defend Chandler too. Such wild claims make one wonder about who makes them on behalf of condemned murderers and what motivates such persons.

According to certain death penalty opponents, “Governor Easley has gone beyond all reason” when he allowed the execution to proceed as scheduled. If so, the governor is in good company because a jury unanimously recommended death for Chandler and the courts did too, if only by a majority of opinion. That’s what makes recent statements by former State Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr the argument de’ jour. Obviously the Justice Orr stands by his previous dissention and he is entitled to his opinions (even more than most on this issue), but the foundations of our courts are nestled in majority opinions. Even Orr would have to agree, that the execution (dissention and all) was lawfully performed. That Chandler in fact got access to the process he was due. Many thoughtful persons deliberated over his fate. Reasonable and learned persons will disagree on many "little things", but Chandler didn't deserve to be spared over a percieved technicality (that other justices disagree with).

Chandler by all accounts led a very troubled life. No one disputes that notion, but that doesn’t excuse what he did to Doris Poore. Ms. Poore’s relatives did not stand in the way of Chandler’s execution. The “Carrboro Contingency” paid them little notice.

Years of appellate process documented the effectiveness of Chandler’s counsel. If they missed something that was unreasonable during trial it didn’t merit special attention on appeal. Since Chandler’s incarceration began, he proved again (and again) just how violent of an offender he was. Make no mistake about it; Chandler represented a danger to himself and to others for as long as he would be allowed to live. And now he isn’t (alive).

Chandler expressed remorse for his crimes through the Governor before his execution. Like many things, this was too small an effort and much too late for it to amount to anything. It wouldn’t have been required if Chandler had passed up the notion of breaking into a house and breaking a widow’s head wide open during the process. The murder of Doris Poore was no accident and if Chandler got little or no sympathy from a lot of other North Carolinians for what he did, that was probably no accident either. What he did to his victim was unforgivable. If Chandler receives forgiveness, that’s between him and God.

The “Carrboro Contingency” opposed this execution like they do all others. There is no middle ground for them. They said, that our governor couldn’t be reasonable, when he didn’t see it their way. Obviously they didn’t consult the majority of North Carolinians for their opinion on the matter or the families of real victims.

More information about Chandler and his case can be found at: