The man convicted of fatally shooting Michael Jordan’s father in eastern North Carolina more than two decades ago hopes to win a new trial with what his attorneys describe as a wealth of new evidence.
The Durham-based lawyers representing Daniel Andre Green, 40, maintain that a range of issues – from allegations of false testimony to police and jury misconduct – marred the 1996 trial that led to a lifetime prison sentence.
Green has maintained throughout the past two decades that he did not shoot James Jordan. His trial attorneys acknowledged that he helped dispose of James Jordan’s body and drove Jordan’s car.
They tried, though, to cast doubt on key testimony from Larry Demery, his co-defendant. Demery agreed to testify as part of a plea deal with prosecutors for a lesser sentence that makes him eligible for parole in 2016.
Prosecutors have said that Jordan was shot and killed inside his Lexus on July 23, 1993, along the edge of U.S. 74 near Lumberton. Family and friends said they thought he had pulled over to take a nap after leaving a wedding.
Scott Holmes, a defense lawyer and director of the N.C. Central University Civil Litigation Law Clinic, and Ian Mance, an attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, have raised questions in recent years about blood evidence in the case.
In 2010, a former FBI agent released the results of his outside review of thousands of cases handled by the SBI crime lab, showing that Green’s case was initially highlighted as one of some 200 mishandled during a 16-year period. The review found that analysts omitted, overstated or falsely reported information about blood evidence in those cases.
In the 250-page request for appropriate relief filed in Robeson County Superior Court on Wednesday, Green’s attorneys contend that Jennifer Elwell, an analyst whose work was called into question, testified that blood was found on the seat of James Jordan’s car. The trial attorneys never received the results from four follow-up tests that countered those claims.
“The blood evidence was critical to securing Mr. Green’s conviction because it was the only physical evidence supporting Larry Demery’s version of events,” Mance, the attorney, said in a statement.
Judge Gregory Weeks, the trial judge, provided the attorneys with a sworn statement saying that if Elwell had changed her conclusion about the substance found in the Lexus, that “would constitute false and misleading testimony on a material fact.”
The testimony about blood, the defense attorneys contend, was crucial: without blood, prosecutors had no other physical evidence to bolster Demery’s claims.
The request for a new trial also states that Robeson County deputies seized James Jordan’s cellphone, but never questioned a man who was called from that number after Jordan’s death. The man called was the son of then-Sheriff Hubert Stone, a friend of the lead investigator and one of Demery’ co-workers, the defense attorneys contend.
“The discovery of the call from Jordan’s car phone to a convicted drug trafficker with close ties to the sheriff’s department casts a whole new light on this case and undermines confidence in the verdict,” Holmes said in a statement.
Holmes and Mance also questioned the reliability of a witness who claimed Green robbed and shot at him weeks before James Jordan was killed. The man later told investigators that all blacks looked alike to him.
There also were questions about whether a juror watched media coverage of the trial and discussed details outside of the deliberations room.
Efforts were unsuccessful on Wednesday to reach Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt, who prosecuted the case almost 20 years ago. The prosecutor can respond to the motion and it will be up to a judge to schedule a hearing.