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frequently asked questions concerning the investigation, trial and post-conviction hearing in the Terence Garner case

Who are the key individuals in this case, and how can one contact them?

  • Linda Chambers
    (Terence Garner's Mother)
    102 Jenny Lane
    Dudley, North Carolina 28333
    919-739-5940

  • Mark Montgomery
    (Appellate Attorney for Garner)
    Miles and Montgomery
    P.O. Box 161
    Durham, NC 27702

  • Terence Garner/Terence Garner Defense Fund
    c/o North Carolina Center for Actual Innocence
    P.O. Box 52446
    Shannon Plaza South
    Durham, NC 27719

  • Judge Knox V. Jenkins
    (presiding judge in the Garner trial)
    Superior Court Judge, Johnston County
    P.O. Box 2739
    Smithfield, NC 27577

  • Tom Lock
    (the prosecuting attorney)
    Johnston County District Attorney
    P.O. Box 1029
    Smithfield, NC 27577

  • Judge Sydney Eagles, Judge Ralph Walker, Judge Linda McGee
    (State Court of Appeals judges who denied an appeal for a new trial)
    North Carolina Court of Appeals
    P.O. Box 888
    Raleigh, NC 27602

  • Governor Michael F. Easley
    Office of the Governor
    20301 Mail Service Center
    Raleigh, NC 27699-0301

Why didn't Terence Garner get a new trial earlier?

A year after an appeal was filed (in December 1998) for a new trial, the State Court of Appeals rendered its decision to deny the appeal. In terms of what is called "findings of facts" (that is, determinations of witness credibility and what actually happened), the Court of Appeals is required by law to defer to the trial judge so long as there is any evidence supporting the trial court's finding. Judge Jenkins' finding was that the testimony of the two eyewitnesses was "unequivocal" and that the jury would have believed them and convicted Garner no matter what.

Just as Judge Jenkins rejected everything inconsistent with that finding, so did the State Court of Appeals. It agreed that eyewitness Bertha Miller's belated statement -- that the trigger man was not Garner -- did not justify a new trial. It gave no weight to Riddick's denial of Garner's involvement because Riddick had given different versions of the events at different times. It also agreed that the Deloach confession was "probably not true" -- because it was induced, he said, by threats to have his girlfriend evicted and her daughter taken away, and because the psychiatrist found him capable of confessing to something he didn't do.

Thus the sentence imposed by Judge Jenkins was left standing, and the Supreme Court of North Carolina refused to review the case.

photo of terence deloachWhat about the "four robbers" theory -- the view that both Terence Garner and Terrance Deloach were participants in the robbery?

The four robbers theory came out in the sentencing of Keith Riddick. From the transcript, Judge Jenkins appears inclined to believe in this theory, as he brings it up in the course of his questions to Riddick before sentencing him. There is no evidence that there was a fourth person involved in the crime. The state never charged Deloach with being involved in the crime, which indicates authorities probably didn't believe Garner and Deloach were both involved.

How significant is the fact that no expert on the reliability of eyewitness testimony testified in Garner's trial?

The defense wanted to have an expert on eyewitness identification testify before the jury, but the judge would not allow it. (It is entirely within the discretion of a trial judge to disallow expert testimony.) Scientific testing and evidence indicate that any eyewitness can be mistaken. Studies have found that eyewitnesses who are more likely to be mistaken are those who were subject to stress, or to being attacked, or where the crime involved people of two different races. In recent years, dozens of prisoners who were convicted based on eyewitness testimony have been freed because of DNA evidence proving their innocence. The transcript of the Garner trial suggests there was a determination by the court that the eyewitnesses were to be believed, no matter what.

What are some of the curious aspects and unanswered questions about the robbery investigation and the subsequent trial and post-conviction hearing for Terence Garner?

  • Why would Kendrick Henderson testify that Terence Garner was innocent if, in fact, he was not? What motive did Henderson have to testify on Garner's behalf, even though his own attorney advised against it? All through the trial, Henderson kept telling the jury Garner wasn't the guy. Although the state looked for evidence that Henderson and Garner knew each other, they never found any such evidence.

  • Why didn't the investigators look harder for the "Terence" person that Kendrick Henderson first described soon after being caught? Henderson described the accomplice in the robbery as being Keith Riddick's cousin from New York and told them the address where he was staying. But when they visited the address and found no one there, the Johnston County investigators simply left, and did not return or post a stakeout.

  • Keith Riddick admitted commiting perjury when he testified that Terence Garner was the third perpetrator in the robbery. Riddick's testimony at Garner's trial was agreed upon as part of a plea bargain with the prosecution. He had also failed his polygraph test, and yet the prosecutor put Riddick on the stand anyway.

  • Law enforcement officers from different jurisdictions often cooperate on cases, but there was unusual antagonism between the law enforcement departments in Johnston County and Wayne County. The root of this antagonism remains a mystery.

  • How does one explain Deloach's confession to Wayne County law enforcement officers that he was involved in the crime, and then, only a few hours later, his recantation under interrogation by Johnston County officers? His six-page written confession exists, but there are no tapes or verbatim record of what happened later, during the four-and-a-half hour questioning by Johnston County officials. Near the end of the questioning, Deloach recanted his confession that he had been a participant in the robbery.

  • Some observers say that Judge Jenkins' actions and decisions seemed curious or unfair. He refused to allow an eyewitness identification expert to testify; at the post conviction "motion for appropriate relief" he scolded the Wayne County law enforcement officials for their actions; at the end of the Garner trial, he turned to Alice Wise and said how proud he was of her testimony -- an action suggesting he was on the side of the eyewitness.

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