A plan by Mecklenburg prosecutors to pare down the county’s backlog of homicide cases fell far short on one goal but exceeded another.
The end result: The district attorney’s office continued a trend in 2014 that has seen the number of pending cases drop by more than 39 percent over the past four years.
In fact, with the help of a falling homicide rate across Charlotte, prosecutors say they have reduced their homicide caseload far enough that some assistant district attorneys assigned to homicides will now be able to help out with other types of cases throughout the coming year.
Last year, District Attorney Andrew Murray announced that his office had arranged for more court time and staffing to be able to hold 26 murder trials during 2014. The previous high for the office had been 14.
In the end, 14 cases again went before juries, including the capital murder trials of Justin Hurd (a conviction) and Demarcus Ivey (a mistrial). But Assistant District Attorney Bill Stetzer, who heads Murray’s homicide team, said the added push to get the cases before a jury led to a much higher than expected 20 defendants changing their minds and accepting plea agreements with prosecutors. The net result: a further drop in the backlog of cases. Stetzer says the office inherited a list of 146 cases when Murray was first elected four years ago. The backlog is now down to 89.
The list of defendants who have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial has been cut by more than half, from 56 to 26, he says.
The coming year
With the immediately pending cases now down to about two dozen, Stetzer says it’s time to return a favor. During the 2014 push, veteran prosecutors from other divisions joined peers in homicide to move more defendants along. Now, Stetzer says his prosecutors will help try cases in the violent crime, rape and child sexual abuse areas.
The homicide calendar kicks off Feb. 2 with two defendants scheduled for trial in the same court slot:
•Todd Boderick, 27, who is charged with the 2012 beating death of his 6-month-old daughter, Keyoni
. Boderick, who is representing himself, says he has not read much of the case file and was recently ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
• That makes it more likely the spot will be filled byDemarcus Reid
, 22, who is accused of causing the July 2013 traffic accident in east Charlotte that killed two of his passengers and left a third in a coma.
More to come
Other cases to come in 2015 include:
•The retrial of Marcus Ivey
on charges that he murdered a man during the 2008 robbery of a west Charlotte strip club. His first trial took 11 weeks and ended with a hung jury in December. If convicted, Ivey faces a possible death penalty.
• The July 26 voluntary manslaughter trial of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Randall Kerrick stemming from the September 2013 shooting death of an unarmed man. The case will be prosecuted by the North Carolina attorney general’s office because Murray is the former law partner of the police officer’s defense team.
• The capital murder trial of Linny Barcliff, 23,accused of the August 2011 triple slaying of a 4-year-old Charlotte girl and her parents.
The child was believed to be hiding near her parents’ bed when she was stabbed to death. Two other suspects were arrested, but only Barcliff faces the death penalty.