An Ordinary Crime
Original airdate: January 10, 2002
Written, Produced and Directed by
NARRATOR: In Johnston County, North Carolina, in a small town, on April 25th, 1997, a robbery occurred. As robberies go, it wasn't a big one, a small lending company housed in a trailer where some money was taken and a woman was shot but survived.
Today the place is closed and seems abandoned. Only a sign in the back reminds one of the Quality Finance Company it used to be. But the crime committed here has left deep and indelible marks behind it.
KEITH RIDDICK, New Hanover Correctional Center, N.C.: The robbery was planned the night before.
NARRATOR: Richard Keith Riddick was the head of the operation.
KEITH RIDDICK: The next day, we went on with it. I went and picked up Deloach, and we picked up Henderson. We went to the store and we circled. We stopped there on the highway looked at it, circled around because there was people there, cars parked in the driveway. Came back, the cars were gone, so I parked on the side, close to the woods, and they went in.
NARRATOR: Bertha Miller was a customer who was there at the time.
BERTHA MILLER: I came up to the finance company which, when I got there, there was some lady already in there. And about seconds after she left, I seen two guys coming up.
NARRATOR: Alice Wise was the secretary of Charles Woodard, the manager.
ALICE WISE: I was running what we called a "test calculate" on the computer. And then I heard Mr. Woodard in a strange tone of voice say, "May I help you with something?"
BERTHA MILLER: Mr. Woodard came up from the back, asked them could he help them. And one of the guys turned around.
ALICE WISE: And I looked up, and this taller black guy was in front of my desk, and he had a bandana around his face.
BERTHA MILLER: And that's when I realized what was going on.
ALICE WISE: Then a shorter black guy had a pistol at Mr. Woodard's head.
BERTHA MILLER: I was going to jump. I mean, I was going to take a chance, you know, trying to get away than to just sit here and just let them shoot me.
ALICE WISE: The phones were continuously ringing, and I thought anything could agitate these people more.
BERTHA MILLER: I was upset. I was - oh! - crying.
ALICE WISE: She was crying. She was screaming, begging, "Please don't kill us."
BERTHA MILLER: I mean, I was begging for our life. And she was telling me to "Just calm down. Calm down, Bertha. Bertha, calm down."
ALICE WISE: And I said, "You're going to have to calm down." I said "It'll be OK. It'll be over soon."
BERTHA MILLER: They tied Ms. Alice up first, and then they tied me up. They demand the money.
ALICE WISE: The shorter one with the gun said, "Where's the rest of the money? Where is it?" and Mr. Woodard said, "It's in the safe."
NARRATOR: Waiting in the getaway car, Riddick thought it would be simple.
KEITH RIDDICK: Go in there, get them to open the safe, TV action, one, two, three. Show them the gun, they give us the money.
NARRATOR: Then somehow, the TV scenario of "one, two, three and out" went awry. A shot was fired.
ALICE WISE: He didn't say anything, he just shot me in the chest.
NARRATOR: Riddick said he tried to remain calm.
KEITH RIDDICK: No one was supposed to get shot. So I'm telling myself, "It's warning shots," you know? "They're doing what they got to do..
ALICE WISE: I held my hands up like this, and I said "OK." Of all things to say, but I just- "OK." And then that's when he said, "What do you say? Should I go ahead and kill the bitch?"
KEITH RIDDICK: Henderson come running out like a madman. "Leave them! Let's go! Leave them! He's shooting people! I don't believe it!" Hysterical.
ALICE WISE: I was looking straight in the shorter one's face when he fired the third shot. Since I had my hands up like this, it went through both wrists before it entered my head, my forehead.
OFRA BIKEL: How did that happen?
KEITH RIDDICK: I had a lunatic with me. I took the wrong person.
OFRA BIKEL: Who was?
KEITH RIDDICK: Deloach. And-
OFRA BIKEL: But he was your cousin. You knew him. Why did you take him?
KEITH RIDDICK: I never seen him shoot anybody. Never. I mean, he just got out of prison for shooting somebody, but I didn't know the circumstances surrounding that. I wasn't there, you know? The large majority point in time when he was locked up in New York, I was living in California, so we didn't maintain contact, you know? So I didn't know what he was locked up for. I didn't have an idea. But you know, when he told me, you know, armed robbery or attempted murder, whatever, I didn't - it didn't register "This man's a lunatic."
NARRATOR: The third man in the robbery was Kendrick Henderson.
KEITH RIDDICK: Well, Henderson was just back-up because we didn't want him. He had a heart. You know, he didn't fit in that category I just described to you. You know, he was trying to be in that when he didn't have to. He had a good family, still young, going to school, you know, respectable parents, you know, lives in the country, you know? But he wanted to go anyway.
NARRATOR: Now he found himself involved in a case where a woman was shot.
KENDRICK HENDERSON, Sampson Correctional Institution, N.C.: What made him shoot Alice Wise- to this day, I don't even know what made him shoot her because he didn't have to shoot her. I mean it had to be something personal withinside hisself. Myself nor Riddick encouraged him to shoot nobody, you know? Really, we didn't even need a gun, but it was there and he used it.
KEITH RIDDICK: For the first- for a little while, it was like a movie, like it wasn't happening. I'm just floating through. It's going on, but it's really not going on. When things like that happen, it's like it's dreamy, kind of, and that's exactly what it was.
KENDRICK HENDERSON: It happened so fast. And then I was unaware that it was going to happen at all, and then it just happened, like "Oh, he shot her." All I seen was just- I couldn't see her because she was behind the desk, pinned down behind the desk. But I just seen him standing over her, holding the gun, and then- I know I heard the two shots, so when I seen how close he was over the top of her, I just said to myself, "I know she's dead."
KEITH RIDDICK: I thought she was going to die.
NARRATOR: Alice Wise did not die, but she was shot in the chest and head and lost her left eye. She never fully recovered from her trauma.
ALICE WISE: Nothing is as I knew it before that day. Nothing. I had worked since I was 15 years old. I've never been, you know, "Susie Homemaker." I admire women that can, but I never was. I worked for a living. I took pride in my work.
I can't- I can't work anymore. I'm terrified of crowds. I don't trust people because I think I did nothing to Terence Garner, and he shot me. The robbery was over. There was no reason. Nothing provoked it. So if Terence Garner tried his best and he did all that he could do to kill me, then there are other strangers that are out there that could possibly want to do the same.
NARRATOR: Who is Terence Garner? Now 21, Terence Garner was 16 when he was arrested for the shooting of Alice Wise, a charge he has always denied.
TERENCE GARNER, Foothills Correctional Inst., N.C.: It hurt me to my heart that she was, like, "Yeah, you're the one that shot me," and point me out in court. It really hurt me because I didn't have no association with guns or nothing like that. I wouldn't even use a gun if it saved my life.
NARRATOR: He also claimed he didn't know the people with whom he was supposed to have committed the crime.
TERENCE GARNER: I never even met them. I never even seen them before. And I mean, the guys, they're a whole lot older than I am. But I never even seen them or crossed their path or nothing like that.
NARRATOR: His family tries hard to be optimistic.
LINDA CHAMBERS, Terence Garner's Mother: I don't think Terence's going to be in there that long. I really don't. Because they know that he did not do it. And it's just a matter of time before they clear him of the crime, and I believe that.
NARRATOR: Kendrick Henderson, who had left a fingerprint on a piece of duct tape at the scene of the crime, was the first to be apprehended. He named two people who he said were his co-perpetrators.
KENDRICK HENDERSON: Beside myself, it was Richard Keith Riddick and Terrance Deloach. But at the time, I didn't know Terrance's last name because, you know, he had just came down from New York. That's all I knew. But I knew where Terrance Deloach was staying at that time because he was staying with his girlfriend.
NARRATOR: Terence Garner had never been to New York, did not know Riddick and did not live with a girlfriend. He lived with his mother. Why, then, was he picked up?
The district attorney, Tom Lock, says that this was because Kendrick Henderson gave the detectives one more piece of information.
TOM LOCK, District Attorney, Johnston County, N.C.: While Henderson was being booked, he told Detective Jason Barbour, who was booking him, that he did not know Terence's last name but he recalled that his nickname or street name was "Dukeboy."
KENDRICK HENDERSON: I said Richard Riddick and his cousin Terrance from New York, you know? But later on- later on down the line, they- they- you know, they said that I said his nickname was "Dukeboy." And I mean, if you- if you really read over the transcripts, the motion of discovery, you'll see that that wasn't possible, that I couldn't have said that, because I never knew a "Dukeboy" until I met Dukeboy three months later.
TOM LOCK: It is correct that there is no reference to the nickname of "Dukeboy" in the transcript of the interview, the initial interview with Henderson. However, Barbour has always been emphatic that during the booking process, that Henderson said "I remember that Terence's street name was Dukeboy." I mean, perhaps that was simply an afterthought that he remembered at that point the street name, and that was simply not a part of the recorded interview.
KENDRICK HENDERSON: Yeah, they said the tape was off. They was fingerprinting me. Yes. You know. Yeah, they could say anything at that time. You know, they could have said I said anything when the tape off, when it wasn't on tape, you know?
TOM LOCK: Well, Henderson may emphatically deny that, but if you read the transcript of Henderson made at the time of his arrest and read his trial testimony, I mean, it's obvious that Henderson doesn't tell the truth anyway. You know, on the other hand, you know, I have the greatest respect and belief in the integrity of Detective Jason Barbour.
NARRATOR: Unfortunately Jason Barbour, the lead investigator of the Quality Finance robbery, refuses to make any comment to FRONTLINE on or off the record regarding the case of Terence Garner, as do the state Bureau of Investigation agents.
What's more, the law enforcement officials in the neighboring Wayne County, where the perpetrators lived, remember the story very differently. It was to them that Barbour and the other officers first came for help.
JERRY BEST, Capt. Wayne Cnty Sheriff's Office, N.C.: Jason Barbour and the other officers that came to this county looking for Terence, last name unknown, never told my group they were looking at Terence, alias known as "Dukeboy." Never.
NARRATOR: Captain Jerry Best, chief of the investigation division of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office, remembers that day clearly.
JERRY BEST: We attempted to help them locate this Terence, last name unknown. And through our investigation, assisted with the Goldsboro Police Department's housing authority officers, somebody dropped the name Terence Garner. And as a result of that information, a photograph of Terence Garner was obtained, and that's where we first heard about the name Dukeboy.
NARRATOR: The photograph was a result of a police sweep of the area a short time before. The Johnston County detectives put the photograph in a line-up and showed it to the manager of the Quality Finance Company. After looking at it for a long time, he identified Garner.
Then, armed with the photograph and Garner's name, they finally used the information given to them by Kendrick Henderson. They went to the apartment where he had told them that Riddick's cousin from New York lived with his girlfriend. They knocked on the door, found nobody there and left.
Richard Price was Terence Garner's defense lawyer.
RICHARD PRICE, Terence Garner's Defense Lawyer: Well, normally you would leave a stake-out team to wait and see if somebody shows up. And that would be normal procedure if you were investigating a serious crime and you believed that that person may- you just won't knock on the door and then keep going. You would keep coming back to it.
NARRATOR: The crucial result of the decision to leave the apartment would only become clear months later. The detectives drove 20 blocks away to the address they had for 16-year-old Terence Garner's mother.
RICHARD PRICE: And he was found in his apartment complex, playing basketball, at about 12:15. He actually came up to the police. They were banging on his mother's door, and he- according to the investigator, he came up to the police and said "Why are banging on my mother's door? She's asleep," and got in their face and, basically, wanted them to leave. And they asked them who he was, and that's when they arrested him.
NARRATOR: The Wayne County Sheriff, Carey Winders, found it unusual.
CAREY WINDERS, Sheriff, Wayne County, N.C.: Well, from my experience in dealing with some neighborhoods, if the law's looking for somebody, I don't believe you're going to come up and say, "Yeah, that's me. I'm ready to go with you. Yeah, that's me. You're looking at me for doing that? Yeah, I'm here."
JERRY BEST: He didn't deny who he was. He immediately told us his name was Terence Garner. He act like he- he- it was just oblivious to him why we were looking at him.
TERENCE GARNER: Well, I didn't know what to say. I was like, "Y'all got the wrong person. I ain't do this." You know, I wasn't thinking straight. I was, like, "Well, what's the deal? How'd y'all pick me up?" No sooner they got me in here, they just shut down the whole investigation. Once they got me, they went by what they got. They didn't care anymore. They just wanted to get it over with.
I mean, it could have been any Terence, you know? I mean, they just happened to come to me first, you know? My name pulled first or they pulled me, got me and locked me up.
RICHARD PRICE: If his mother had named him John, he wouldn't be in prison today because he wouldn't have had the name. And had he been on another street and not been picked up and got his photograph taken by the Goldsboro Police, he wouldn't be in prison today.
NARRATOR: According to Kendrick Henderson, he had been in jail for three months before he first ran into Terence Garner.
KENDRICK HENDERSON: One of the jailers made a mistake and put us in the visitation room at the same time. So now I'm sitting right beside him and don't even know it. And my girlfriend at the time, she was, like, "That's the guy they got for shooting that woman in your case." And I looked at him. I looked to my side.
I looked at him, and I'm, like, "Hold up." At that point right there, I just- you know, I really just- I looked at him, I told him, I said, "What are you locked up for?" When he looked at me, he just looked like he was about to cry, you know? He just looked real scared. His mother was already crying. So he looked at me, and he was, like, "I don't know. I ain't- I haven't done anything." He said, "They said I shot some woman."
And at that point right there, I told him, I said "You ain't got to worry about this." I said, "I'm not going to let them convict you of the crimes right here."
NARRATOR: As soon as he could, he got in touch with his lawyer, James Ethridge.
JAMES ETHRIDGE: At that time, he said, "Look, talk to the district attorney." You know, "Tell them that that's not the right fellow." You know, "They got the wrong man. That's not who I was talking about." And I said, "Are you sure?" He said, "Yes, I'm sure." And you know, he wanted me to get in contact with- to go talk to this Terence fellow and let- the Terence that they had apprehended, who was the wrong Terence. And I believe that myself. He wanted me to talk with him, and I said, "No, I can't do that. I can speak to his lawyer."
RICHARD PRICE: He was very clear to his lawyer, when he saw my client in the jail, and said, "There's your co-defendant. There's Terence Garner." And he saw him, and he told his lawyer very clearly, "That's the wrong guy. They're going to be mad at me." You know, "I'm trying to cooperate here. I want help on my sentence. They've got my fingerprints. They've got me, but they're going to look foolish. They've got the wrong guy. I don't know that kid. He wasn't in the crime."
KENDRICK HENDERSON: His lawyer, Mr. Price, wanted me to take the stand, but the judge would not allow him to subpoena me. The judge left it up to me to take the stand for Mr. Garner. So my lawyer was, like, "Don't take the stand."
JAMES ETHRIDGE: My reaction was, "You know, that sounds good. And that's something that I would want you to do, but you can't do that. And you can't do that because you will put yourself in harm's way. You will put yourself under cross-examination. You will put yourself in a position where it may hurt your cause and hurt my cause."
NARRATOR: Even though Kendrick Henderson was always careful to minimize his own role in the robbery, he never denied that he had participated in it. He always denied Garner's participation.
KENDRICK HENDERSON: I know what I'm going through, so I can just imagine what he's going through. I was involved in the crime, and I wake up every day, like, "Oh, man. How did I get here?" So I know he wasn't involved in the crime, he waking up, like, "Oh, man," you know, "These people just really don't care about me," you know. "They really think I'm guilty," when the man is- he's 100 percent innocent.
NARRATOR: Terence Garner's chances of getting out seemed brighter when Riddick, who had fled to California, was extradited to North Carolina. He told FRONTLINE that he then realized they had arrested the wrong Terence.
KEITH RIDDICK: I didn't know till I came to North Carolina that they had the wrong guy. And my lawyer came to see me, and I was, like, "I don't know that dude. That's my first time seeing him. I don't know Garner."
NARRATOR: Robert Denning was Riddick's court-appointed lawyer.
OFRA BIKEL: Do you remember what you first told Riddick about Garner?
ROBERT DENNING, Keith Riddick's Defense Lawyer: I know exactly what I told Mr. Riddick. But you have to understand that, as an attorney, there is a confidential requirement that I cannot- I can't tell what he says, and I can't tell what I've said to him.
KEITH RIDDICK: He put it to me like, "They're not letting Garner go, so you need to decide either go down with Garner or go home, or get the least bit amount of time." "Which is?" "I can get you some parole- I mean, probation. I can get that for you. It's no problem. They'll listen to me. What is it going to be?" First couple months, "Ah, no. I'm going to take it to trial." He's coming back with more and more evidence. "You know, his trial's coming up real soon. Need to make a decision. You need to make a decision because after he's- once he's gone, you know ain't nothing I can do for you." "Well, all right," you know? "What do I need to do?"
NARRATOR: What Denning had in mind for Riddick was to cooperate with the prosecution and cop a plea.
ROBERT DENNING: The case had gone on for some time and, as I recall, Mr. Lock and myself were trying a homicide case. And during breaks after that, we discussed the possibility of cooperating, so to speak.
TOM LOCK, District Attorney, Johnston County, N.C.: We approached Mr. Denning with a negotiated plea offer. Up until that point, Riddick had not made any statements to law enforcement officers. He had exercised his right to remain silent at the time of his arrest. And I let Riddick's lawyer know that we were willing to allow his client to plead guilty to the lesser charges in exchange for his truthful testimony.
OFRA BIKEL: Against Garner.
TOM LOCK: Against Garner and Henderson. His lawyer, I'm assuming, discussed the plea offer with his client and responded that, yes, his client was willing to accept that negotiated plea offer and was willing to testify truthfully.
KNOX V. JENKINS, Jr., Res. Superior Ct. Judge, Johnston City: Well, see, the plea- plea bargains, if- they read pretty much uniformly that the state agrees to accept, assuming that the defendant will testify truthfully at the trial of So-and-So. Well, that's obviously a ploy by the state or the government attorney, so when their witness with a criminal record or whatever testifies, "Well, you've agreed to testify truthfully."
It's a ploy to add credibility to someone whose- who has no credibility. So the lawyer has an ethical duty to avoid placing a witness on the stand that he knows is giving perjured testimony. So the lawyer says, "Tell the truth. I've covered myself. Now, whatever he says is"- you know? I think if you- that's pretty universal.
OFRA BIKEL: Is that the way it works?
Judge KNOX V. JENKINS, Jr.: You know it is. I mean- [laughs]
NARRATOR: The plea offered by the prosecution asked for Riddick's testimony against Garner and Henderson. But it also added that if Riddick refused, the offer would go to Henderson in exchange for his testimony against Garner and Riddick. Denning's counter-offer was that his client would agree to testify to the truth. He did not specify on paper what the truth was. The two lawyers stipulated that Riddick would have to submit to a polygraph test before the plea was signed.
KEITH RIDDICK: I don't why they did that. But they told me ahead of time, "It doesn't matter. This is not admissible in court. It doesn't matter. This is just for us and us only."
OFRA BIKEL: And how did you- what- what happened?
KEITH RIDDICK: They said you can't really grade it. You can either pass- you either pass or fail. They said I failed. But if they had to grade it, I got one question right, and that would be, "Is my mother's name such and such and such."
OFRA BIKEL: Everything else?
KEITH RIDDICK: Everything else, they said I- zzzt, or whatever.
OFRA BIKEL: You failed.
KEITH RIDDICK: I failed.
OFRA BIKEL: And they let you go to court and testify on the stand anyway?
KEITH RIDDICK: When I failed, we laughed together. A collective, "Oh, don't worry about it." OK. "You want anything to eat? You want some cigarettes?" "Yeah." I want anything I can get. It was, I'm one of the boys now. You know how they do.
ROBERT DENNING, Keith Riddick's Defense Lawyer: I was not there. I was not there when Mr. Lock spoke to the polygraph operator. I know nothing more than that I was told that he scored poorly, and Mr. Lock had some reason- again, you're going to have to ask him. Mr. Lock had some reason to think that the score was acceptable, and he called him to the stand to testify. That's all I know.
TOM LOCK: After talking with the polygraph examiner, who really was a little reluctant to run the polygraph in the first time- in the first place, we decided that the polygraph results were not necessarily all that valid anyway. The polygraph examiner told me, and I've been told this on other occasions by other polygraph examiners, that polygraph exams administered to people who are in custody at the time are not all that reliable, that people are depressed and extremely frightened anyway, and this can effect the subject's performance on the polygraph exam.
NARRATOR: Riddick says that the two lawyers did their very best to ensure that he would pass the polygraph test.
KEITH RIDDICK: The questions they asked me was designed for me to pass. They asked me questions like, "Were you the driver?" "I was." "Did Terence go in and shoot the woman?" "He did." But you didn't ask me Terrance Deloach or Terence Garner. You asked me "Terence?" So how can I fail that? But I guess my subconscious mind was activated, and I knew which Terrance it was, so- I don't know.
ROBERT DENNING: If I knew- I would not structure a deal where I knew my client was lying. No, I would not do that. I wouldn't structure a deal for someone to get up and lie on the stand. Absolutely not. I shouldn't do that. It's against my oath.
Judge KNOX V. JENKINS, Jr.: Well, that's baloney. That's the only answer I can give. How does a lawyer know whether he's telling the truth or not unless the lawyer was there?
OFRA BIKEL: Ofra: Were you there when he testified?
ROBERT DENNING: Yes, I was there when he testified.
OFRA BIKEL: Is he- do you think he's telling the truth?
ROBERT DENNING: That's not my call.
OFRA BIKEL: Well, what do you think?
ROBERT DENNING: I don't think anything. That's not my call. That's not my function.
OFRA BIKEL: What's your function?
ROBERT DENNING: My function is to represent my client zealously within the bounds of the law.
KEITH RIDDICK: I asked my lawyer one time, I said, "Suppose I tell them on the stand that it wasn't Garner?" "You don't want to do that." "Yeah. All right. I don't want to do it." I know what's going to happen. You know, I'm not stupid, you know?
NARRATOR: Richard Rosen is a professor of law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
RICHARD ROSEN, Professor of Law, UNC Chapel Hill: I would have assumed, if I were Riddick's lawyer, that the only way Riddick was going to get his deal was if he testified against Garner. Prosecutors quite often say, "We just want you to tell the truth," but everybody involved knows that they want you to tell their version of the truth, which they may believe is true at that point, but if you start saying something different, you lose your plea.
NARRATOR: Riddick says that the prosecution's version of the truth suited his own dilemma. Not happy to snitch on his cousin, he was now offered a way out.
KEITH RIDDICK: OK, so now they looking at it, "Well, you don't have to tell on your cousin. We help you do what you got to do, you help us do what we got to do." OK. So now I'm not the snitch because I didn't tell on my cousin. You feel me? That's how they played me. OK, so I played their game. I knew what I was doing the whole time.
OFRA BIKEL: You met Riddick before that, before the trial?
TOM LOCK, District Attorney, Johnston County, N.C.: That's correct. I did talk with him before the trial.
OFRA BIKEL: Did you think that he was truthful?
TOM LOCK: He certainly struck me as being truthful, yes.
OFRA BIKEL: Did you know that he had a cousin whose name was Terrance?
TOM LOCK: No, we did not know that before trial.
OFRA BIKEL: I'm sorry. You did or you didn't?
TOM LOCK: No, we did not know before trial that Riddick had a cousin named Terrance.
KEITH RIDDICK: They knew I had a cousin. Now they want to take my statement. First of all, "District Attorney wants to speak with you." They tell me the story first. "So Henderson and Garner goes in. Garner's the trigger man. Henderson ties everyone up. This, this, this, this and this," the story exactly how it happened, but Deloach is not in the picture.
OFRA BIKEL: Where is he?
KEITH RIDDICK: He became the fourth man later down the road, but at that point, he was still just the cousin I don't have. "You don't have a cousin, do you? OK, OK. Got that out of the way. You sure you don't have a cousin? Because they're going to- this is very important now." "I don't have a cousin." "OK. Good. Now we can proceed."
OFRA BIKEL: Who asked you that?
KEITH RIDDICK: Tom Lock and his three henchmen, the detectives he had with him.
OFRA BIKEL: He didn't say "Riddick, remember you don't have a cousin."
KEITH RIDDICK: He didn't really say that till he was prepping me, but it was, "You don't have a cousin?" "I don't have a cousin." "Who is the cousin that Garner- I mean Henderson is telling us about?" You got to know because you went to his house first before you went and picked up Garner. You went to Deloach's house. So when you sit there and ask me constantly if I have a cousin, I already know what it is. "I don't have one." You're just making sure I'm up on it.
So I played the game. Easy as one, two, three. "Now, everything we just said, when I cut the tape on, you tell it like it is." Cut the tape on it and I said it, my lawyer right there. "OK. You did good." Pat me on the back.
OFRA BIKEL: And they know you have a cousin?
KEITH RIDDICK: And they know. And they know. Without a reasonable doubt, they know.
TOM LOCK: If Riddick said that I knew before trial that he had a cousin named Terrance, then Riddick would be sadly mistaken.
OFRA BIKEL: Because you really didn't know it.
TOM LOCK: I did not know it.
[www.pbs.org: Read the extended interview]
OFRA BIKEL: It was so easy to check, though. You didn't check on it.
TOM LOCK: Run that by me one more time?
OFRA BIKEL: All I was saying is that you didn't check on it. I mean, I don't think it's that hard. You have a guy in prison who's a perpetrator, who's telling you that his co-perpetrator is a cousin of Riddick who's from New York and now lives in this town. I don't see why you couldn't check it out. I mean I really don't. It's a tiny town.
TOM LOCK: I don't know that it's necessarily that easy to confirm the name of every cousin that a suspect in a case may have. I disagree with that- with that assertion.
KEITH RIDDICK: They knew from day one I had a cousin. Henderson's family's telling them. My family's telling them.
TOM LOCK: All I know is what Riddick has testified to under oath. I do not know what Riddick is claiming now that the trial is over.
NARRATOR: Terence Garner's trial for attempted murder, kidnapping and armed robbery opened in Johnston County on January 20th, 1998. It was presided over by the resident Superior Court judge, the Honorable Knox V. Jenkins. First elected in 1990, he was planning to run again later that year. He is one of the most politically powerful figures in this part of North Carolina.
Riddick took the stand and testified as expected. He, Riddick, Kendrick Henderson and Terence Garner robbed the Quality Finance Company on April 25th, 1997. Garner was the shooter. As for himself, he did not have a cousin named Terrance.
Mr. Woodard, the manager of the establishment, testified that he identified Garner in a photo line-up after looking at it for approximately two minutes. But the prosecution's star witness was Alice Wise, who also identified Garner.
ALICE WISE: I was looking at this man when he very coldly tried to take my life. You don't forget that. You try. You don't forget that. There's no way! I see him every day of my life!
NARRATOR: The defense did not have a strong case. Terence's family said that they had played ball together on the afternoon of the crime, but according to his mother, his alibi witnesses got short shrift.
LINDA CHAMBERS, Terence Garner's Mother: The only people that really testified was my mom, my stepdad and a best friend of ours that used to be around us every day. Them was the only three people that testified.
OFRA BIKEL: And how do you think they looked at them?
LINDA CHAMBERS: They laughed at them. They laughed at them and told- I mean, I got kind of offended when they told my mama, "Just get off the stand."
OFRA BIKEL: You felt that?
LINDA CHAMBERS: Yeah. I mean I was kind of hot. You know. Well, can I say "pissed off"? Well, I was pissed off.
NARRATOR: Despite his lawyer's advice, Kendrick Henderson took the stand in defense of Terence Garner.
KENDRICK HENDERSON: I had six days to think about whether I was going to take the stand for Mr. Garner or not. Now, those were some long six days. Really, I had to tell myself, if I take the stand for Mr. Garner and put myself in front of the gun, and it's a done deal, they can do whatever they want to do to me. But I realized that this guy is innocent, and I'm the only one that's going to be able to prove that he's innocent. So if I don't take the stand, then, you know, he would have just had no chance of proving his innocence.
The D.A., Mr. Tom Lock, he did not hold back. He just came at me full force. They weren't trying to give me no room to operate whatsoever because they knew I was going to tell the truth.
NARRATOR: He tried to convince the jury.
KENDRICK HENDERSON: I want people to understand that you got some people be like, well, "Maybe he did it," or some people might be, like, "Well, maybe he didn't do it." And I'm telling, like, he didn't do it. It ain't no maybe this, maybe that. He's totally innocent.
TOM LOCK, District Attorney, Johnston County, N.C.: You know, I frankly don't believe anything Henderson says. [laughs] I mean, you know, Henderson has lied throughout these proceedings.
RICHARD ROSEN, Professor of Law, UNC Chapel Hill: He can say he doesn't believe what they're saying. The question is, why would Henderson lie? Why would Henderson get up on the stand and say, "That is not the man who did the crime with me"? And you know and there's evidence that they tried everything, the prosecution and the police tried everything to show a connection between Henderson and Garner, and they could not do that. Now, why would he get up there and lie to save somebody he doesn't know?
ALICE WISE: Henderson may say and will say, I assume, as he is, that no, it wasn't Terence Garner or anyone else. But the facts are, I'm telling the truth. I know who shot me and it was Terence Garner, and nothing's going to change that.
NARRATOR: The defense argued that Alice Wise's identification of Garner, which took place five months after the crime in the middle of a bond hearing, was highly questionable.
RICHARD PRICE, Terence Garner's Defense Lawyer: It was a show-up identification, as lawyers call it, without the benefit of being in a line-up. I mean, the line-up, the photo array, she didn't identify him. But there he's sitting right in front of her, 10 feet away, 10 or 12 feet away. She's sitting on the second row of superior courtroom, and there he was in the jury box, and in a jumpsuit, along with Kendrick Henderson, who was involved in the crime, admitted being involved in the crime. And she identified him. Of course, we complained about that identification. We moved to suppress that identification. Judge Jenkins denied that.
NARRATOR: Almost five years after she identified Garner in court, Alice Wise is still adamant that she could not have made a mistake.
ALICE WISE: The only way that this situation could be any worse is for the wrong person to be in prison for doing this. I would not say if I was not 120 percent sure. I know Terence Garner, the one they're calling Terence Garner, he tried to kill me on April the 25th of '97.
NARRATOR: Alice Wise is still traumatized by the events of 1997.
ALICE WISE: I'm seeing a psychiatrist regularly, and I asked him about two months ago, "Am I ever going to get over this?" And he frankly, bluntly said, "No, you're not." I have a very dear family, a lot of close friends, but they don't understand what post-traumatic stress is, either. It's kind of, like- sometimes I feel like they're thinking "This happened to you four years ago. Get a- get a grip," you know? But you can't. I can't.
NARRATOR: She still repeats the words she said on the stand.
ALICE WISE: It was Terence Garner that shot me. His face is that last thing that I saw with both my eyes. Terence Garner shot me.
KNOX V. JENKINS, Jr., Res. Superior Ct. Judge, Johnston City: I think that her comment that "The last thing I was with my two eyes was his face"- did you read that in the record? Pretty strong.
RICHARD ROSEN: If you believe eyewitness testimony and you are convinced by it, then you can believe Terence Garner at least could be guilty. If you have a healthy dose of skepticism about eyewitness testimony, which I think people these days have to have, given all the DNA exculpations that have come after eyewitnesses have identified defendants- if you have that skepticism, then the evidence is all on one side.
I mean you've got a teenager with almost no record, who- I mean a small guy who's supposedly this leader of this gang of 20-something thugs, criminals, and- on one side. Or you've got an experienced armed robber who comes down from New York, who has a strong history of violence. It's not close which one it would be.
NARRATOR: The case of Terence Garner hinged almost completely on eyewitness testimony for the jury and for the judge.
Judge KNOX V. JENKINS, Jr.: The evidence was so overwhelming, based on the two people who were actually there. They were more than eyewitnesses, as far as how I personally feel about it, as predicated on the testimony and my personal observation of these two people, their demeanor, the way they conducted themselves in the trial.
NARRATOR: He was not as impressed by the third eyewitness.
Judge KNOX V. JENKINS, Jr.: The third person was a lady who was a customer. She was hysterical. She couldn't have identified her own mother if she'd walked in.
NARRATOR: Bertha Miller admitted she was frightened and only glanced a couple of times at the man with the gun.
BERTHA MILLER: When he was standing behind Mr. Woodard, I, like, looked at him, and then I turned my head. Then he came around the desk in front of where I was sitting, and I looked at him then.
NARRATOR: But if Bertha's quick glance was not enough to identify the man, she says it was enough to identify who it was not.
BERTHA MILLER: I would have knew if it was Terence Garner, even if glancing at him. I would have knew it was him.
OFRA BIKEL: Why? Why would you have known?
BERTHA MILLER: Because I practically helped raise Terence Garner. And two weeks before this happened, Terence Garner had spent the weekend with my son at my house. And I know him. It was not him.
NARRATOR: But she only said it later in a sworn affidavit, not on the stand when she was intimidated, she said, by Ms. Wise and Mr. Woodard. She also claimed that both perpetrators were darker than Terence Garner.
BERTHA MILLER: I tried to tell them that he was darker than Terence Garner. They didn't believe me.
RICHARD PRICE: I mean, I argued to the jury that there was a problem. The problem was, where's the dark-skinned man? Where is Mr. Riddick's cousin from New Jersey? My client isn't his cousin. My client is 16-and-a-half. He's not 25. He's not dark-skinned, as Ms. Miller said, and- but we didn't have him. We didn't have all this evidence. We hadn't found him.
NARRATOR: He couldn't have imagined, as he finished his closing arguments, that within 48 hours, Riddick's dark-skinned cousin from New York would be found. But by then, Terence Garner had been found guilty and sentenced to 32 to 43 years in prison.
Two days after Garner's sentencing, the local papers came out with startling headlines. Someone else confessed to the crime. Once again, it started with Henderson. The day of Garner's sentence, Henderson's lawyer came to the prison to tell him about it.
KENDRICK HENDERSON: Thirty-two to forty-three years- I mean, I really just wanted to explode right then and there. They just really don't care whether the man's innocent or not.
NARRATOR: It so happened that the next day, Henderson had to be transported to Goldsboro in Wayne County to face some prior charges.
KENDRICK HENDERSON: So I'm thinking I only got one shot at this thing. I only got one shot left.
NARRATOR: He asked to see the Wayne County detectives, who he knew, and told them about Riddick's cousin, Terrance Deloach. It had been nine months since the Wayne County Sheriff's Office had anything to do with the case.
JERRY BEST, Capt. Wayne Cnty Sheriff's Office, N.C.: We immediately contacted Johnston County, and they advised us that they had heard the story and basically were not interested. And as a result, we pondered over it and decided we would do it ourselves.
KENDRICK HENDERSON: I sent them to the apartment where Terrance Deloach was staying with his girlfriend in the projects. Now, she got the only house with the black fence beside it. So I knew that there was no way they could have get the apartment mixed up with anybody else's apartment.
NARRATOR: They drove to the same apartment they had visited nine months before.
JERRY BEST: This is the route that Kendrick Henderson told us to take. He told us to turn on this street, and he told us to drive up here to Hugh St., turn right, and there's the back of the apartment there. There's the fence.
NARRATOR: They knocked on the door, which was opened by a young woman who introduced herself as Kim Robinson.
JERRY BEST: We asked her if she knew a man by the name of Terrance, and she said, "Yes, he's my boyfriend." We asked her if she knew his last name. She says, "His name is Deloach." And we asked her if she knew Keith Riddick. She said, "Yes, that was Terrance's cousin." And we asked her where Terrance Deloach was at. She said, "Yes, he's here in our apartment, my apartment. He's back in the back bedroom." And at that time, it was requested if they would come to our office, and we had some questions we would like to ask and some things we needed to talk about.
We were with him for about two hours. He finally admitted that he was the Terrance that was involved in the robbery with his cousin. He even told us about the gun, described the weapon that he used. Actually, Kim Sue Robinson played an important role in that confession. She sat down with her boyfriend, Terrance Deloach, and she told Terrance that if he knew anything about that robbery, he needed to tell it, that she cared a lot for him and if he had to serve some time for it, she would be waiting for him when he got out of prison. And that's what broke the man. That's what made the man tell the truth.
NARRATOR: Within two hours, Deloach, who had a long and violent criminal record, signed a detailed confession of his participation in the Quality Finance Company's robbery and as the person who shot Alice Wise.
[www.pbs.org: Read the confession]
JERRY BEST: We contacted the high sheriff of the county, Freddy Narron, and he immediately advised us that he was going to send some people over to our office. We learned that the district attorney, Tom Lock, the investigating officer, Barbour, was coming, and also SBI agent Tart were coming with him.
TOM LOCK, District Attorney, Johnston County, N.C.: Well, certainly, I was stunned. I will freely admit to that. When I was standing there in the Wayne County Sheriff's Department and had been told that Deloach had confessed to this crime, I was taken aback and I was- I was surprised.
JERRY BEST: They appeared very confused as to what they might were going to do about the situation. They made statements such as, "There goes my election." One of the officers made this comment, "There goes my house and my career." And-
OFRA BIKEL: They were not happy.
JERRY BEST: They were not happy, no.
NARRATOR: Whatever they said to the Wayne County detectives, almost immediately, Tom Lock called a press conference.
TOM LOCK: Good afternoon. My name is Tom Lock, and I'm the district attorney for Johnston County.
GLENNA MUSANTE, Former Reporter, "Raleigh News & Observer": My cell phone rang, and it was Tom Lock, the district attorney, and he was calling to say, "Glenna, I think we convicted the wrong person"
TOM LOCK: After extensive interrogation, Terrance Deloach confessed to the robbery and to shooting Alice Wise.
GLENNA MUSANTE: I was stunned, but also just very proud of Tom for just being so forthright and calling me right away and calling the press right away to try to right a- you know, an apparent wrong.
TOM LOCK: Thus far, the details of his confession have been corroborated. I notified Garner's attorney, Mr. Rick Price of Clayton, and I notified-
RICHARD PRICE, Terence Garner's Defense Lawyer: Thursday afternoon, I got a call from Tom Lock, the district attorney. And he began by asking me to sit down. And then he said, "Rick, have you ever represented an innocent man?" And I asked him had I just gotten through doing that, because the way he said it, that was the only trial I had had in the last couple of weeks. And then he proceeded to tell me that Terrance Deloach had been found, he had confessed, he was Riddick's cousin and he was dark-skinned and he was 25 years old.
TOM LOCK: Judge Jenkins has scheduled a hearing in his court, here in Smithfield, tomorrow morning at 9:30. At this hearing, I expect the state will ask Judge Jenkins to set aside Garner's conviction, or alternatively-
TERENCE GARNER: God, this all happened, like, within a two-day span. It was, like, "Terence, pack your stuff." I'm wondering what's going on, you know? The sheriff that came and picked me up, he was, like, "You're one lucky man, Terence. Some dude confessed to your crimes." I mean, I really felt good about it, you know? I really felt I had a good chance of getting out.
LINDA CHAMBERS, Terence Garner's Mother: I can remember just as plain as day, I went to the store. The only one thing my son love for me to cook, and that's lasagna. I went to the store and made a big pan. I won't never forget it. My kids cried. I cried, Momma, all everybody, we was all sitting in my house waiting for the police because we were figuring the police were going to bring him home, and we were just going to eat dinner and we were going to talk and laugh and, you know, have our old fun back.
GLENNA MUSANTE: There's a real nobility to being able to admit when you've made a mistake. And there was this sense that, although a mistake had been made, the system was working. So I think it was a really kind of exciting day to be a reporter and to be in the middle of all this and to be, you know, covering this event.
JERRY BEST: I felt so. I felt like everybody was happy, yes. I think the system was working, and I felt like, based on the information that had been obtained, that the wrong man that had been sent to prison was going to be released and sometime in the near future, and the proper person was going to be tried and they were going to change places.
GLENNA MUSANTE, Former Reporter, "Raleigh News & Observer": The only person who didn't seem very excited about it was Judge Jenkins, to be frank. He seemed very reluctant to comment on what was going on.
KNOX V. JENKINS, Jr., Res. Superior Ct. Judge, Johnston City: I would say this. I think that making a statement at that stage is premature. Is that a nice way of saying it? I'm trying to be diplomatic.
NARRATOR: Someone else who was very unhappy was Alice Wise.
ALICE WISE: Sheriff Narron came to the phone and he said, "Alice, it appears that we possibly convicted the wrong guy." I was hysterical. "No, you haven't. No. Do not- do not let Terence Garner go. You have not. He is the one that shot me." I mean, that's all I could keep telling him. "There's a misunderstanding. Something is wrong. But do not let Terence Garner go. You can't do that. He is guilty. He shot me." And after that, I just- I was hysterical.
NARRATOR: The next morning, arriving at the courthouse, Captain Jerry Best had a strange feeling.
JERRY BEST, Capt. Wayne Cnty Sheriff's Office, N.C.: We noticed something was going on. It was kind of hush-hush. And finally I come right out and asked, "What's going on? Are we not having a first appearance here charging Terrance Deloach with this armed robbery and also having a hearing on Terence Garner's possible innocence in this case? Or are we having some other hearing on something else? What's going on?" And that's when we were told that he had recanted.
TOM LOCK, District Attorney, Johnston County, N.C.: When Deloach was brought back over to Johnston County, and then later that night he was sat down and interviewed by the Johnston County officers and the state Bureau of Investigation agents, who were armed with the knowledge of what had occurred inside the business, Deloach's statements simply did not hold water. And I maintain he couldn't describe what happened inside because he was not inside. He didn't know.
JERRY BEST: I attempted to have the sheriff, the high sheriff of Johnston County, Freddy Narron, to allow us to sit down with one of their detectives with him, since we had a rapport with Terrance Deloach, and attempt to go through the details with him again. And they didn't want to hear that. They didn't want to do that. No.
NARRATOR: The official word was out. Terrance Deloach recanted his confession after four hours of questioning by the Johnston County detectives. There are no transcripts or audiotapes of the recantation. What there is is a report written by SBI agent Greg Tart five days later. The report stated that for a good part of the interrogation, Deloach stuck to his confession and described the robbery- the trip with Riddick, grabbing Bertha Miller, pulling out the gun and more.
Then, when told by the agent that he didn't know enough details about what happened inside the finance company, he recanted the confession. When asked why he confessed in the first place, Deloach came up with an assortment of reasons, one of which was that his girlfriend, Kim, was threatened by the Wayne County detectives.
GLENNA MUSANTE: It was shocking. It didn't make sense that Terrance Deloach would admit to this crime to detectives in Wayne County, detectives who didn't have a stake in anything other than justice, OK? It just seemed very strange to me that overnight, after spending one night in the Johnston County jail, you know, just one day with Johnston County detectives, that Terrance Deloach suddenly totally changed his story. It seemed- to me, it stunk.
CAREY WINDERS, Sheriff, Wayne County, N.C.: I won't say. I won't say what I think, but I don't know. I don't really know because that would be speculating. That would be wrong. And I can't tell you what they did for four hours. I just know that we had a confession. It was a good confession. They were convinced of it when they left here, and later it was recanted. I can tell you that. They were convinced of it enough that they called a news conference to say that they had the wrong person to start with. And that's all I can say.
ANNE SAKER, Reporter, "Raleigh News & Observer": If this had happened before the jury had rendered a verdict, I think we would have a very different outcome. But because it happened afterward, and in such a scrambled way, there wasn't- there wasn't much time to do anything else except to try and find a way to put Terrance Deloach's confession off to the side and off the table somehow.
OFRA BIKEL: To what end?
ANNE SAKER: To maintain the jury verdict, which was that Terence Garner committed this crime.
GLENNA MUSANTE: So I think they fixed it by bullying Deloach to such an extent in their interview with him that he became confused. Then they used his confusion to say, "Well, he didn't get the facts straight."
JERRY BEST: That's probably what they wanted to do. I mean if they're concerned about their election and concerned about their homes, maybe they want him to recant.
TOM LOCK, District Attorney, Johnston County, N.C.: I mean, an election would never, ever influence a prosecutorial decision that I might make, especially a decision as grave as this.
OFRA BIKEL: Would not?
TOM LOCK: Would not.
OFRA BIKEL: Would he admit that he said "There goes my election"?
JERRY BEST: I don't know that he would or not. If he's telling the truth, he would. He should, because that's what the truth is. He said that.
NARRATOR: Since all this happened after Garner's conviction, the defense immediately filed for a motion for appropriate relief, asking Judge Jenkins to give Garner another trial based on the newly discovered evidence, that Riddick did have a cousin named Terrance and that cousin had confessed to the crime.
The hearing would take place four weeks later. The sudden emergence of Terrance Deloach was unsettling for a lot of people. In prison, Riddick was panicking. He feared that now that it became public knowledge that he had lied about not having a cousin, wouldn't it be obvious that he had also lied about everything else?
KEITH RIDDICK: When they got Deloach, my lawyer told me, "Don't panic. Don't worry about it." "What do you mean? I'm in too deep. It's about to blow up. It's over with. Game is over." But in Johnston County, the game is never over.
OFRA BIKEL: Doesn't that make you wonder about the rest of the testimony? I mean if one lies about one thing, why wouldn't he lie about everything?
TOM LOCK: You know, I- everything else that Riddick testified to in the trial is consistent with all the other evidence in the case. You know, why he may have told that one lie, I don't know.
KEITH RIDDICK: But everything I said should have been a lie, then. Everything, from A to Z, should have been a lie. I mean, "He's not believable. He failed a lie detector test. Everything he said is a lie." It wasn't that. That wasn't the case, though. I told the truth about everything but lied about one thing, my cousin.
OFRA BIKEL: You mean, why lie about having a cousin?
KEITH RIDDICK: Exactly. It doesn't make sense.
NARRATOR: According to Riddick, the prosecution knew that this one lie in exchange for his plea covered other lies. Why would he lie about not having a cousin unless this cousin was the one involved in the robbery?
Then, when Deloach appeared, Riddick spoke with the detectives and agreed with what he says was their suggestion that both Deloach and Garner were involved in the crime. Even though he then told them it wasn't true, it was a theory that seemed to appeal to the state.
TOM LOCK: The four-perpetrator theory - and it is just that, a theory - makes sense. It does explain a lot of things in the case. It explains, for example, how Terrance Deloach could have known everything with a fair amount of detail up until the time that the perpetrators entered the Quality Finance office, but knew nothing about what happened after that. The four-perpetrator theory is intriguing. The only difficulty with it is there's really no evidence to support it.
KEITH RIDDICK: Now there's four of us because they're not letting Garner go. They can't.
OFRA BIKEL: Why not?
KEITH RIDDICK: Because of that woman. They went back and told and asked her again, "Are you sure?" She cried. My lawyer told me this. She cried out, "I'm 100 percent sure! You can't tell me. He stood over me, almost took my life. I stared at him. I know. You cannot tell me. It's him. Don't do this to me. It's him. Do not let him go. I'm scared," whatever she was saying. OK, it was four.
Judge KNOX V. JENKINS, Jr.: Thinking back, I think there were four. That's just my opinion. I have- I don't know, but I think that there were four involved.
JERRY BEST, Capt. Wayne Cnty Sheriff's Office, N.C.: There's no doubt in my mind that, based on what I know about this case, Terence Garner is not involved. I think the theory that there were four instead of three is- I think that's a red herring somebody's throwing out, if anybody's throwing that out. I just can't understand that.
NARRATOR: The cordial and easy relations between the sheriff's offices of the two neighboring counties, Johnston County and Wayne County, became unusually strained.
RICHARD ROSEN, Professor of Law, UNC Chapel Hill: I've never encountered this before. I think one of the reasons the Wayne County police officers were so upset after this was over with is that they've never been treated like this before. I mean, the notion that their interrogation was going to be subject to that sort of scrutiny by the state, when they had done nothing different than they had done probably in hundreds of cases where the prosecution had fought to validate their interrogation- I think they were incredulous that the state had decided to attack them.
NARRATOR: Not only did the state attack them, so did the court. At the hearing of the motion for a new trial, Judge Jenkins berated the Wayne County detectives for meddling in the affairs of the Johnston County Sheriff's Office.
JERRY BEST: I have never been treated with such disrespect by a Superior Court judge in all my life, as I did with Knox Jenkins the day I testified in that trial, that hearing.
KNOX V. JENKINS, Jr., Res. Superior Ct. Judge, Johnston City: They interview an individual. They have no knowledge whatsoever of the underlying events, what allegedly occurred. There was no way for the detectives in Goldsboro to determine whether a person was telling the truth or not because they had no knowledge of what happened with any degree of certainty.
JERRY BEST: I felt badgered by Judge Knox Jenkins. I really did. "Why did you not call Johnston County when you learned about this information?" And I would try to answer, and he would interrupt my answer. "Your office was only 30 minutes from Johnston County. Why didn't you call Johnston County and tell them that this guy had implicated himself in this robbery? You knew it weren't your case. You didn't have any information about it." And I'm trying to answer the judge, and he won't let me answer. And he's just badgering me and badgering me.
So I set there and just let him say his piece. And when he finally says his piece, I say, "Can I answer?" He says, "Yes." I said, "We did your honor. We did call Johnston County, and they refused to come over."
Judge KNOX V. JENKINS, Jr.: I consider those two in Goldsboro a couple of buffoons, but that's my own personal opinion from what I heard in the courtroom.
NARRATOR: As the hearing went on, the prosecution once again presented Charles Woodard and Alice Wise, who identified Garner. Then, since the state now presumed Deloach's confession to be a lie, they called Dr. Nicole Wolfe, a psychiatrist, to testify that it was within his psychological make-up to give a false confession.
When questioned by the judge whether a person like Deloach could make a self-incriminating statement without fully realizing that it might lead to a long prison term, she said it was possible but not probable. She also testified that Deloach had a low I.Q., suffered from antisocial personality disorder and was impulsive and violent. In fact, she recounted that he broke the ankle of an orderly during his evaluation at the hospital.
She was never asked her opinion about whether he was violent and impulsive enough to shoot a woman without provocation. Deloach, called by the defense, took the 5th Amendment so as not to incriminate himself. The judge never heard Deloach's version of his confession, his recantation, or anything else, for that matter.
Riddick also took the 5th Amendment.
KEITH RIDDICK: My lawyer told me, "Plead the 5th." Everything they ask me, "Did Garner do this?" I plead the 5th. "Do you have a cousin?" I plead the 5th. "Was you there?" I plead the 5th. "Why are you pleading the 5th?" I plead the 5th. They told me that that's how it should be done. If I made a public record saying that it was the wrong man, my plea bargain was invalid. I'm going to do 50, 60 years. OK. Well, that's enough leeway right there. You ain't got to worry about me doing that.
NARRATOR: The hearing lasted three days. Judge Jenkins's decision came quickly. He denied Garner a new trial. The sentence of 32 to 43 years in prison was left standing.
TERENCE GARNER: I was just out of it. I was lost, you know, after they told me I wasn't going to get a new trial or I wasn't going to be free of all charges. I was just out of it, man. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to do.
ANNIE GAINES, Terence Garner's Grandmother: We all went- all of us got disappointed. She had cooked that big dinner waiting for Terence. [weeps]
BRENDA GARNER, Terence Garner's Aunt: And we tell our children that as long as you do right and tell the truth, that, you know, everything is going to prevail. And when he didn't get out, they didn't understand why. And they were just, like, "Well, you know, if we do anything- if they say we did it, we did it." And we try to tell our children not to think that way because when we tell the truth and do what you're supposed to do, you know, everything will be all right. But with Terence's situation, our children just don't trust the police nor, you know, the law system.
KEITH RIDDICK: They know who did it. But see, it didn't matter who did it. It's not racial. But then again, it is because a black guy shot this white woman. Somewhere down the line, she related to someone in the court system in that county. So now it's got to be- it has to be swift justice. Someone has to pay. And a young black man paid for it, and that's all that matters. She's swearing down 110 percent it was him because she didn't see his face, his life, his history. She seen his skin color. "A black guy shot me." That's all that matters.
NARRATOR: Riddick says he was grappling with his own guilt.
KEITH RIDDICK: This is a hell of a burden to have come back at you, a man, innocent man, incarcerated for 40, 45 years, 15, 16-year-old. Life is over with for something he had no part in whatsoever. I did what I had to do when my back was against the wall, and I admitted that. And I was wrong, but at the same time, I did what I had to do because my life was in jeopardy. You know, self-preservation. I've got to save myself first.
NARRATOR: Glenna Musante, the journalist and a friend of the judge, said that she, too, was having a hard time.
GLENNA MUSANTE, Former Reporter, "Raleigh News & Observer": Judge Jenkins is someone who I really thought of as a friend and had grown to like him. I was very, very fond of him. I'd always thought of, you know, Knox Jenkins as a very kind of courageous, concerned judge, someone who really cared about the legal system and cared about justice and cared about the public.
NARRATOR: In fact, she said, she started covering the case at Judge Jenkins's request.
GLENNA MUSANTE: He called me several times. And my editors were not interested in us covering the story. This was a robbery that had taken place in a far corner of an outlying county. It wasn't, to us, a big deal. But for some reason, he would not take no for an answer. He wanted us in that courtroom, covering that story.
He basically said that this was a horrible, horrible crime and that this young man was an example of these vicious teenagers who are- you know, need to be put away, need to be punished. I'd had several conversations with Judge Jenkins prior to this trial about his concern about violent teenagers. He seemed almost- I don't know if I'd say obsessed with the subject, but it was something that he was very concerned about.
NARRATOR: In one of her first articles, she quoted Judge Jenkins declaring, "These are predators, and my responsibility is to protect the public from these people. From what I have seen in court, they have no conscience. They are maiming and killing people for no reason. They kill people just to watch them die."
GLENNA MUSANTE: I don't want to get sued by the judge, so I need to be careful what I say. But my recollection was that prior to the conclusion of that trial, before I ever stepped foot in that courtroom to write a story about that trial, he was telling me on the phone that this young man was guilty. He certainly seemed to have an opinion, a very firm and clear opinion about Terence Garner, and that Terence Garner had committed this crime.
NARRATOR: As she followed the developments, she said, she got more and more disturbed.
GLENNA MUSANTE: I'm really not sure how to describe it. He simply did not seem to care about the kid. And he didn't seem to care about the fact that this kid might be innocent and that this kid's life might be wasted in a prison. It didn't seem to matter to him.
OFRA BIKEL: What did matter?
GLENNA MUSANTE: I'm not sure what mattered. I'm not sure what was driving him, whether it was embarrassment or concern about being reelected or stubbornness or just, you know, inability to admit he'd made a mistake. I don't know.
NARRATOR: Disappointed and conflicted, it became more and more painful for Musante to continue covering the story, and she asked her editors to relieve her. Anne Saker, the tough, veteran crime reporter, would follow the case. She would not mince words.
ANNE SAKER, Reporter, "Raleigh News & Observer": Every time you turn around, there's something about this case that just isn't right. And that's not a moral judgment, that's according to the book. When you look at the law books, when you look at trial court procedure, there's just something not right about this.
[www.pbs.org: FAQs about the case]
I think that Terence Garner at least deserves a new trial. I think the court system in North Carolina would be best served if we cleared all of the- put everything on the table, literally and figuratively, and come to the- come to a conclusion about it. But to have all these questions floating out here and the very real possibility that a very young man is going spend the vast majority of his life in prison- to me, that seems worth the time and money to find out if that's true.
NARRATOR: Getting Garner a new trial was Mark Montgomery's job. A court-appointed appellate lawyer, he has handled hundreds of cases in the last 13 years.
MARK MONTGOMERY, Terence Garner's Appellate Lawyer: I've never had a case like this. I've had a case where I believe my client to be innocent and my client tells me that they're innocent. That's not unusual. I've had cases where their defense lawyer believes that they're innocent, and so forth. But I've never had a case where this many people have said that my client is innocent.
NARRATOR: Montgomery had good reason to believe that he could get Garner a new trial in front of a new jury.
MARK MONTGOMERY: The jury at the trial never heard about Terrance Deloach. And of course, they never heard Riddick say that he perjured himself, either. Let a jury hear it all. Let them hear everything and decide. And I think a jury, hearing all the evidence, would acquit Terence Garner.
NARRATOR: He filed an appeal in December 1998. One year later the court of appeals rendered its decision. The appeal was denied. It deferred to Judge Jenkins's finding that the testimony of the two white eyewitnesses was "unequivocal" and that the jury would have believed them and convicted Garner, no matter what.
And just as Judge Jenkins rejected everything inconsistent with that finding, so did the court of appeals. It agreed that 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.
The sentence imposed by Judge Jenkins was left standing. The supreme court of North Carolina refused to review the case.
ANNE SAKER: The system protects itself in the same way that doctors protect each other and lawyers protect each other, and in some instances, the way journalists protect each other. Lawyers- judges protect each other. And this was a case where there's this formalized system of judges overlooking each other's work, and unless there is something that in the legal world is called "shocking to the conscience," they're very reluctant to change anything that a judge did in a trial.
NARRATOR: For Terence Garner, the road ahead, as much as there is one, is difficult and uncertain.
MARK MONTGOMERY: Once somebody has been convicted, once their appeals are over, there's an enormous burden placed upon him to go back into court and get another trial. I feel that judges generally want to believe that they've given criminal defendants a fair trial, and once the trial is over, that's the end of it. And certainly once the appeal is over, that should be the end of it. So I suppose that any judge, Judge Jenkins no less, believes that the book is closed on Terence Garner and it's a waste of everybody's time and money and energy to try to reopen that book.
OFRA BIKEL: Did you ever have second thoughts?
Judge KNOX V. JENKINS, Jr.: No. Absolutely not. Never. And to this day, I don't have any second thoughts, any doubt at all about it.
[www.pbs.org: Read the extended interview]
NARRATOR: It was an ordinary crime. The judge himself said so.
Judge KNOX V. JENKINS, Jr.: This was a ordinary, run-of-the-mill armed robbery case. They are probably dozens occurring as we sit here now.
NARRATOR: There was an arrest.
TERENCE GARNER: They asked me, "What's your name? Where you live at?" You know, I said, "My name's Terence Garner. I live right here." And the next thing I knew, they said I was under arrest.
NARRATOR: There was a plea bargain.
TOM LOCK, District Attorney, Johnston County, N.C.: We were willing to allow his client to plead guilty to the lesser charges in exchange for his truthful testimony.
NARRATOR: A defense lawyer.
OFRA BIKEL: Do you think he's telling the truth?
ROBERT DENNING, Keith Riddick's Defense Lawyer: That's not my call.
OFRA BIKEL: But what do you think?
ROBERT DENNING: I don't think anything. That's not my call. That's not my function.
NARRATOR: A co-perpetrator who took the plea.
KEITH RIDDICK: I asked my lawyer one time, I said, "Suppose I tell them on the stand that it wasn't Garner." "You don't want to do that." "Yeah, all right. I don't want to do it."
NARRATOR: A very sure eyewitness.
ALICE WISE: I know it was Terence Garner that shot me. His face is the last thing I saw with both my eyes.
NARRATOR: Another eyewitness who at trial didn't sound as sure.
BERTHA MILLER: I practically helped raise Terence Garner. I knew him. It was not him.
KENDRICK HENDERSON: I feel, like, that, you know, my punishment, you know, was well deserved. Riddick's punishment was well deserved, you know? But Mr. Garner, you know, they forced that upon him. He had no choice in the matter. He still doesn't have a choice in the matter. He's just doing somebody else's time.
CAREY WINDERS, Sheriff, Wayne County, N.C.: I think a lot of people feel that, you know, Garner is serving time that he really doesn't need to be serving. A lot of people there feel he probably is not guilty. And there's not a lot of avenues they can take. A trial was conducted. A jury found him guilty. And according to the process, there's not a lot a process - appeal process - that you can do beyond that. But I think the majority- a lot of the majority of the people still feel, you know, this young man didn't commit the crime. And that is a tragedy if you got somebody sitting in prison who didn't commit a crime.
TERENCE GARNER: It could happen to anybody. But it just had to happen to me. They pull my name. "We'll see if he did it," you know? It could have happened to anybody. I think about it a lot like that, somebody innocent getting locked up for something they didn't do.
NARRATOR: According to his plea bargain, Keith Riddick was released from prison in December, 2001.
Kendrick Henderson, sentenced to 13 years, is scheduled to be released in 2011
Terrance Deloach, who was freed without charges, has since been arrested seven times and is now serving a seven-year sentence for armed robbery.
As for Terence Garner- according to his sentence, the earliest he will be released is in 30 years.
An Ordinary Crime
WRITTEN, PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY
Karen K.H. Sim
Michael H. Amundson
Robert D. Emerson
Raleigh News & Observer
Klan Meeting written by Ry Cooder
Used by permission of EMI Intertrax Music, Inc.
Cruisin' with Rafe, Pt. I by Ry Cooder and Jim Keltner
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Michael H. Amundson
Erin Martin Kane
SENIOR STAFF ASSOCIATE
Lee Ann Donner
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A Frontline coproduction with Ofra Bikel Productions, Inc.
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ANNOUNCER: For more on this story, explore FRONTLINE's Web site, where you'll find answers to some frequently asked questions about the Garner case, including what options are left for the defense, more on some of the key figures in this story, experts' analyses of how this story mirrors the flaws nationwide in America's criminal justice system, an interview with producer Ofra Bikel about this case. Then join the discussion about this story at PBS on line, pbs.org, or write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to this address. [DEAR FRONTLINE, 125 Western Ave., Boston, MA 02134]
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