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Wake County Death Sentence Is First In More Than A Decade

Litigation, legal, gavel
Joe Gratz
Flickr Creative Commons

A Wake County jury sentenced a man to death on Monday after his conviction for killing two people at a motel almost three years ago.

News outlets report a Wake County jury returned with a unanimous decision in the case of 30-year-old Seaga Edward Gillard. The death sentence is the first handed down by a Wake County jury in more than a decade.

Gillard was convicted two weeks ago by the same jury of multiple charges in the deaths of 22-year-old April Lynn Holland and her boyfriend, 28-year-old Dwayne Garvey at a Raleigh motel.

The last time an inmate was executed in North Carolina was in 2006 when Samuel Flippen was put to death after his conviction for the murder of his 2-year-old stepdaughter.

Gretchen Engel, executive director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, said in a statement the death sentence doesn't reflect the views of the majority of the state's residents.

"All it shows is that, if you try 10 death penalty cases in a row and exclude from the jury all the people who oppose the death penalty, you can find a jury that will sentence a person to death despite the death penalty's documented unfairness," Engel said.

Engel said while Gillard committed a serious crime for which he should be punished, she questioned whether his crime was "the worst of the worst."

"Wake County jurors have refused to impose the death penalty in other double homicide cases and even in a case in which the defendant was convicted of murdering five people," she said. "All today's verdict shows is what we already knew: That the death penalty is imposed arbitrarily, and disproportionately on black men."

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