If a North Carolina jury finds him guilty in an ongoing trial, Jason Williford will get a death sentence in the 2010 rape and beating death of state school board member Kathy Taft, says WRAL. In Durham, prosecutors say are seeking the death penalty for O’Brian McNeil White, who is charged in a March shooting at a tire store. Even if courts hand down the state’s ultimate sanction in these high-profile crimes, death penalty experts say it’s impossible to say when, or even if, the sentences will ever be carried out.
North Carolina, which has 156 prisoners on death row, has not executed an inmate since Aug. 18, 2006, when Samuel R. Flippen was put to death by lethal injection for the beating death of his two-year-old step daughter. Since then, a complex and evolving set of legal challenges have imposed a de facto moratorium on the death penalty in North Carolina. The controversial Racial Justice Act, a 2009 law that allows death row prisoners to use statistical evidence of discrimination to appeal their sentence, has played a part in this stalemate. So have other prisoner appeals that question whether the state’s execution method is cruel and unusual or their crimes were investigated fairly.