Manteo Murder Case Back In Court

Published 10:54 am Sunday, April 18, 1993

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Clifton Eugene Spencer, serving a life sentence in Lillington Correctional Center on a plea of no contest to charges of second-degree murder in the killing of Manteo waitress Stacey Stanton on Feb. 3, 1990, will be in Dare County Superior Court this week for a hearing to determine if he had competent counsel.

Spencer’s attorney, Edgar Barnes, will argue that Spencer’s sixth amendment constitutional rights were violated because of incompetent representation. Judge Gary Trawick will be called upon to decide if Spencer was adequetely represented by Greensboro attorney R.O. Murphy, and if not, whether the outcome of the plea bargaining process would have been different if he had been competently advised.

“It’s my opinion as his attorney, based on reviewing the discovery the state has provided, that he was denied effective assistance of counsel,” Barnes said. “I think the evidence is going to be surprising in this case.”

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Barnes said he has subpoenaed 18 witnesses and expects 10 call at least 12 of them to testify in a hearing which likely will lake about 1 ½ to two days.

Spencer claims that he was taken to an out-of-the-way place on Roanoke Island for questioning after the body was discovered and that no attorney was contacted for him at this time, even after he asked for one. He also claims that he was illegally removed from the Tyrrell County jail

after being placed there on a warrant from New Jersey charging drug possession.

Spencer says his attorney did not press on with certain motions which were begun after he was returned to this state from New Jersey, where he had pleaded guilty to cocaine possession, and that Murphy did not challenge the state’s contentions that he had confessed to the murder, even though there was no written or taped evidence of this.

He also claims that Murphy also led him to believe he would actually serve less time on a life sentence than on one specifying a set number of years, but now he believes this is not true.

Ms. Stanton, 28, was found dead in her Manteo apartment on Ananias Dare Street in Manteo on the afternoon of Feb. 3 when a co-worker went 10 see why she did not show up for her 2 p.m. shift at a local restaurant.

There was no sign of forced entry. Spencer admitted to being in her apartment that night but claims that he never confessed to the killing.

To see the scans of the archived newspaper page where this article appeared, click here.