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interviews: tom lock


Lock, the Johnson County district attorney, prosecuted the Garner case. In this interview, he talks about Keith Riddick's plea agreement and trial testimony, why Deloach's confession "didn't hold water," and why another trial for Garner isn't warranted.

... You're at peace about this case?

I'm at peace with the conviction in this case, yes. And I base that upon all the evidence in the case, including the identification of Garner from the photographic lineup by Charles Woodard, in the court identifications of Garner by both Woodard and Alice Wise, and, just as significant, by the fact that they have both seen the other Terence, Terrance Deloach, and emphatically said that he was not the shooter.

Deloach is just a coincidence?

Oh, I understand what you're saying. You know, I don't know the answer to that question. But it's certainly quite possible that Henderson knew Deloach, and so he didn't pull the information you know entirely out of the air.

But why do you think he tried to blame Deloach?

Again, I don't know the answer to that question. And I don't think it's appropriate for me to speculate about that.

...

I frankly don't believe anything Henderson says. I mean, Henderson has lied throughout these proceedings -- during his interview and during trial and post-trial, as far as I'm concerned.

You believe Riddick?

Everything that Riddick said pretrial and during trial is consistent with all the other evidence we know. So the answer to your question is, yes, I believe Riddick testified truthfully, with one exception. There is no doubt he lied when he said he did not have a cousin named "Terence," because we were able to confirm that the other Terence, Terrance Deloach, was in fact Riddick's cousin.

He failed the polygraph.

I remain satisfied beyond any reasonable doubt that Garner is in fact guilty of these crimes.

... Riddick was a little reluctant to run the polygraph 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. The people are depressed and extremely frightened anyway, and this can affect the subject's performance on the polygraph exam.

Why do it if it doesn't mean anything?

Well, certainly we wanted to see whether he was willing to take a polygraph, and that was important to me. But [it] does not appear to me that anybody passed a polygraph during this case.

Why have him testify in the hope he'll tell the truth?

Because I didn't know that he was not telling the truth.

But the polygraph showed deception.

And then the polygraph examiner told me that she didn't necessarily attach any credibility or credence to the validity of that exam.

You don't care if he lies or doesn't.

I disagree with that. Polygraph exam is merely an investigative tool. I'm not a believer in absolute infallibility of polygraph exams at all. That's why they're not admissible into evidence in this state or in most states.

Why do it?

As I said, it can be a valuable investigative tool, and that's all it is. ...

Why did you offer him a plea?

I certainly think I could have prosecuted the case successfully without him. [But] there are a couple of reasons I wanted to use him. First is that I did not have any physical evidence directly tying Garner to the crime, as I did with Henderson. I did not, for example, have a fingerprint.

And second, Henderson's confession implicating Garner would have been inadmissible at Garner's trial, because it's hearsay, including Henderson's statement to detective Barber that Terence's street name was Dukeboy. The jury in all likelihood would not have been allowed to hear that evidence, because it was hearsay. So I felt that it was important to have evidence to corroborate the identification of Garner by Alice Wise and Charles Woodard.

What was the deal?

If my memory is correct... My memory is that we agreed, in exchange for Riddick's truthful testimony -- and please understand the agreement was an exchange for his truthful testimony -- to allow him to plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and one count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery. I believe that was the agreement. It may have been the other way.

What if he had said it wasn't Garner?

It certainly would have thrown a monkey wrench in the case had he testified to that. But based on the information that he provided to us, I did not anticipate he was going to testify to that.

What did you expect him to testify?

Based on the statement that he provided to law enforcement following the negotiation of the plea agreement with his defense lawyer, we expected that he would testify that the perpetrators of the crime along with him, of course, were Henderson and Garner.

That was understood?

I certainly anticipated that was going to be his testimony when he took the stand. Sure.

He understood that?

He understood what?

That this was what you expected?

I'm quite confident that his lawyer told him that we expected him to testify truthfully. And I am quite confident his lawyer told him he would be subjected to very rigorous cross-examination, and that if he was not testifying truthfully, there was a significant chance that he'd be caught.

You knew he would testify against Garner?

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. ...

You met Riddick before?

That's correct. I did talk with him before the trial.

Did you think he was truthful?

He certainly struck me as being truthful, yes.

Did you know he had a cousin?

No. We did not know before trial that Riddick had a cousin named Terrance.

What if Riddick said you did know...?

If Riddick said that I knew before trial that he had a cousin named Terrance, then Riddick would be sadly mistaken.

Because you didn't know?

I did not know it.

You could have checked if he had a cousin named Terrance.

I don't know necessarily that [it's] easy to confirm the name of every cousin that a suspect in a case may have. I disagree with that assertion. ... With all due respect, I think you are being naïve. It's neither practical nor routine for law enforcement officers to check every single detail of a suspect's statement in an effort to corroborate that. You know the significant thing to us is that Riddick's statement was consistent with everything we did know about the commission of the crime itself.

You didn't know he lied or had a cousin?

I was aware of the polygraph exam results, yes. I also was aware that the polygraph examiner told me herself that she would not attach a great deal of validity to those results. ... I did not know that Riddick had a cousin named Terrance before the trial. I did not know that fact until after the trial.

Could other police detectives know?

I don't think that's possible. I feel quite confident that the officers would have shared that information with me had they known that.

And if he had a cousin?

I feel quite confident that the other officers on the case would have shared with me any information they may have had that Riddick had a cousin named Terrance. And no officer ever told me that.

When did you learn that?

No, no, no. That was learned after the trial, following Henderson's statement to the Wayne County officers, several days after the trial.

Doesn't that make you wonder about the rest of his testimony?

You know, 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.

Why shouldn't he lie?

Well, actually at that point, his deal was struck. Had he testified that the perpetrator, the gunman in the case was his cousin Terrance Deloach, and had we been able to demonstrate that that was the case, I think the state would have been bound by its deal. His deal was to testify truthfully.

You know snitches tell what you want.

Excuse me for interrupting. I disagree with that. You know, it's my interest and my goal in the case to get to the truth. It is not my goal in any case, including this case, to convict a particular person. I wanted to know the truth in advance of trial, and I wanted to know the truth after the trial. That was the reason we conducted such an extensive investigation into this case following the conviction. And that's the reason we've opened our files up to the defense in this case -- both his trial lawyers and his post-conviction lawyers -- because we understand it is our ethical duty to get to the truth in the case, not to convict a particular person.

Shouldn't that happen before trial?

You're asking me to read Riddick's mind, which I cannot do; I'm not going to do. Riddick's negotiated plea was to testify truthfully in the case, and that was it.

He could testify for Garner.

Had he testified for Garner, as I said a moment ago, that certainly may have thrown a wrench into the state's case. But yes, I believe the state would have been bound by the deal, assuming that his testimony for Garner had been the truth.

So he would have been the liar?

Well, what you would have done in that case would have been to have a determination as to whether or not his testimony was in fact truthful, and that determination generally is made by the presiding judge.

Riddick knew who the jury would believe?

I cannot speculate as to what the jury would have done had that been Riddick's testimony during the trial; that is, had Riddick testified during the trial that Terence Garner was not the perpetrator. I cannot and I am not going to speculate as to what the jury's verdict would have been in that situation.

Who do you believe?

I really can't answer that question, because that didn't happen. And had I been confronted with that sort of testimony during the trial, I'm not sure what the state's response would have been.

What happened with Terrance Deloach?

Johnston County authorities were notified that Wayne County authorities were interviewing an individual in the Wayne County Sheriff's Department by the name of Terrance Deloach, who was telling them that he was the gunman in this case. And Johnston County authorities went over there. In fact, I accompanied them. By the time we got over there, the interview was near completion. They came out with this statement which they had taken from Deloach, in which Deloach claimed that he was the gunman.

They were led to Deloach by Henderson when Henderson was returned to Wayne County following Garner's trial to face some charges there. He'd contacted a detective by the name of Bobby Brasswell, told Bobby Brasswell that Johnston County had convicted the wrong man and he wanted to provide Brasswell some information.

You had a press conference?

Yes. Later that day.Obviously, we were stunned by that development, and later that day I did hold a press conference. In retrospect, I think I held it prematurely. But I disclosed publicly the information that we had received: that this other Terrance, Terrance Deloach, had confessed to the crime and claimed that he was the gunman. And if I recall correctly, I stated there in the press conference that we expected that we would join in with the defendant's motion for a new trial; or alternatively, we would join in with the defendant's motion to release the defendant Garner on bond pending further investigation into the case.Following the press conference, later that same day, Deloach was brought over to Johnston County. He was interviewed by Johnston County detectives and by State Bureau of Investigation agents, and at that time, his statement fell apart. It didn't hold water. It was not consistent with the other known evidence in the case.

What was Deloach's alibi?

I don't remember Deloach ever offering an alibi.

Why not? He knew a lot.

An alibi would suggest that he was not there. His statement tended to place him there. I don't understand that question, because he did not offer an alibi. ...

Why not check him out?

His purported confession simply did not hold water. It was totally wrong as to so many details as to what occurred inside the Quality Finance. It just didn't make sense. ... Deloach seemed to have a pretty good understanding as to what may have occurred up until the time that they arrived at the Quality Finance. From that point on, his statement was totally incorrect. ...

Maybe you should reexamine the theory.

Well, ma'am, it was not our theory. We knew what had occurred inside the Quality Finance Company. We knew because of the testimony of Bertha Miller, not withstanding her state of fright and hysteria during the commission of the robbery. We knew what had occurred because of the testimony of Charles Woodard, and we knew what had occurred inside that business because of the testimony of Alice Wise.

Now, the Goldsboro officers, the Wayne County officers, when conducting the interview of Terrance Deloach, did not know what had occurred. Frankly, in my opinion, [they] should not have been attempting to conduct the interview anyway. But that was water under the bridge. They already had done it.And if you go back and look at his statement, it does not contain a lot of detail as to what had occurred inside the business itself. When Deloach was brought back over to Johnston County, and 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 statement simply did not hold water. I maintain he couldn't describe what happened inside, because he was not inside. He didn't know.

Why shouldn't Wayne County interview him?

Because it was not their case, and they didn't know really anything about it. I think the more appropriate course of action would have been for them to have contacted the Johnston County officers and SBI agents and invited them to come over to Wayne County to talk with Deloach.

Why do you think Deloach confessed?

It was pretty obvious based on all the information we developed later that this was a very intense interrogation, and that the officers threatened Deloach during the course of the interview. They threatened, for example, to take away his baby, or to have the baby that belonged to Kim removed by the Department of Social Services. They made some representations to him that were not true. They told him that both Henderson and Riddick had now identified him as the perpetrator, and that was not true. It is also entirely conceivable, based on what Deloach has later claimed, that they told him that Charles Woodard and Alice Wise had in fact positively identified him as the perpetrator. ...

What are your views on the theory of four people being involved in the robbery?

The four-perpetrator theory is very interesting. That was first offered really by Riddick post-trial, when he contacted law enforcement officers and said he wanted to tell them what had happened and he told them that all four were involved -- both Terences and Henderson and himself, and that Terence Garner, though, was the Terence who had entered the premises with Henderson.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, other than Riddick's statement suggesting there were four perpetrators, a statement which he later recanted; except that, at the time that he entered his plea if I recall correctly, when questioned by the court, Riddick again maintained that there were in fact four perpetrators.

The judge believed that?

It appeared that the court believed that there were quite possibly four perpetrators.

Why was Deloach let go?

What evidence would we have against him at that point? I just don't think we would have sufficient evidence to convict him. The testimony of Henderson and Riddick who have given inconsistent statements by that time, the testimony of Garner, who testified that he was not there at all, or the testimony of Alice Wise and Charles Woodard, who never saw him and in fact who have seen him since the trial and have both emphatically said that Deloach was not the gunman. I simply would not have sufficient evidence to prosecute Deloach for his involvement in this case, if we assumed there were four perpetrators and he was the fourth perpetrator.

You had his confession, which fit beautifully.

The law of this state is that a person cannot be convicted on the basis of a confession alone. There must be additional evidence to corroborate the evidence, the corpus delicti.

A confession and Riddick?

But surely it would not have been prudent to put Riddick on the stand at that point, after giving any number of inconsistent statements. And it would not have been prudent to put Henderson on at that point after he had given any number of inconsistent statements. It would not be plausible at all to put those individuals on at a trial of Deloach.

But Deloach was let go scot-free.

I've never said that I believed that there were four perpetrators. I've simply said that is a theory which made sense. Also, I've quickly added, that there is no credible evidence to support that theory. Certainly there is not enough evidence, in my opinion, for me to go before a jury and ask them to convict Deloach. ...

Why not give Garner a new trial?

All the things about which you have asked me today have been aired in open court. They have been considered by a judge and a motion for appropriate relief. They have been considered by the appellate court of this state, which reviewed the case. And all the courts have agreed that the information which came forth after the trial was not sufficient reason to give Garner a new trial.We don't just willy-nilly give defendants a new trial just because some witness later changes his story, or even because some person later comes forward and says, "Hey, I was the one who committed the crime." Once we subjected all this so-called additional evidence to rigorous tests of scrutiny, it simply didn't hold up. The public -- and certainly the victims of a crime -- are entitled to some finality in the proceedings. ...

Are you disturbed about Terence Garner?

I was satisfied, and I remain satisfied beyond any reasonable doubt that Garner is in fact guilty of these crimes. Please understand that that is the burden of proof upon the prosecution in this case and in every criminal case tried anywhere in this country -- that is, it is the prosecution's burden to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Not beyond all doubt, because that is a burden that would be impossible for the prosecution to meet in almost every case. ...

Is it necessarily the end of story?

If you're asking me to make a broad sweeping statement that innocent people are never convicted, I certainly am not so foolish. Clearly, throughout the course of history, innocent people have been convicted. That is why we have a post-conviction process in this state. That is why defendants are allowed to later raise claims and are allowed to attempt to set aside their convictions based upon newly discovered evidence, based upon new scientific procedures such as DNA. Those procedures are in place, and they remain available to Terence Garner to this day.

Nothing merits another trial?

Those claims have all been considered, and they have been rejected by both the trial court and the appellate court. I believe that the trial court and the appellate court were correct in their decisions, because the so-called confession of Deloach just didn't withstand scrutiny -- didn't hold up. Henderson has lied throughout the proceedings, so we really just can not attach any credibility, I submit, to what he says.And Bertha Miller has never been able to identify any of the perpetrators or to exclude any person as being a perpetrator. She admitted freely during the trial that she was hysterical during these proceedings, and both Woodard and Alice Wise said that she was hysterical. So unfortunately, we just can't use Bertha Miller in an effort to either identify or exclude anybody as a perpetrator.One other point I want to make about the identification of Garner by both Woodard and Alice Wise -- and please remember they made independent identifications of Garner -- is that we are not talking about a crime which happened in a matter of seconds. Rather, we're talking about a crime that took anywhere from 10 or 15 minutes or so to commit. So both of these witnesses have more than ample opportunity to study the features of the perpetrators, and to burn their observations into the recesses of their memory.

Moreover, Alice Wise testified and Charles Woodard testified that Alice Wise was extremely calm throughout the commission of the crime. She kept her wits about her. She was trying to calm Bertha Miller down, for example. This was not an identification made by a frightened hysterical witness, based upon a 10- or 15-second observation of the defendant. Rather, it was an identification made by a witness who certainly may have been frightened, but also remained as calm, certainly more calm than most people would have. And it was an identification made after a very lengthy observation of the perpetrators.

...

Another thing that to me is significant in this case... I don't know if you've seen both Garner and Deloach. But both Alice Wise and Charles Woodard have seen both of the individuals, and both are emphatic that not only is Garner the perpetrator, but they have said that they are absolutely positive that Deloach was not the gunman.I also have seen both of them, and those two individuals do not look very much alike. Deloach is much darker than Garner. He's much bigger than Garner. Their facial features are different. I just do not see how these two individuals independently would be mistaken about this identification, based on the appearances of those two individuals.

...

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