Spencer hearing begins, will conclude February 23rd

Published 4:39 pm Sunday, January 25, 1998

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The evidentiary hearing for inmate Clifton Eugene Spencer, 38, currently serving a life sentence for the 1990 murder of a Manteo waitress, began In Dare County Criminal Superior Court late Friday with Judge J. Richard Parker presiding but will not conclude until Monday, February 23.

Spencer’s hearing was delayed until the trial of Hiram Gallop ended in the late afternoon. Friends, relatives and supporters of Spencer’s filled the courtroom gallery. Spencer wore street clothes and waved to Judge Edgar Barnes who was there to present an affidavit in the case.

Spencer’s first pro se motion for appropriate relief was denied by Superior Court Judge Steven D. Michael on May 19, 1992. Edgar Barnes (now a District Court Judge) was appointed to represent Spencer on the appeal. He lost that appeal on October 31, 1993.

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Spencer’s lawyer, Letita C. Echols of Raleigh, with the North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, said her two sworn witnesses show that another man and woman had motives to kill 28 year-old Stacey Stanton on February 2, 1990.

Barnes’ affidavit said that when he represented Spencer he was “unaware that the SBI had interviewed Barbara McGuinness who was at the Green Dolphin Pub during the evening hours of February 2, 1990.”

In his affidavit, Barnes swore he was not aware of any argument that took place between Stacey Stanton and Patty Roe over their relationships with Mike Brandon.

Barbara McGuinness, of Virginia, said in her affidavit, that she had been questioned by the

SBI concerning the events on the night of the murder, hut was never contacted by Spencer’s attorney or anyone investigating the case on Spencer’s behalf.

Both gave testimony to that effect.

Spencer, a 38 year-old African American, has been appealing his sentence since his plea of no-contest was entered on January 9, 1991. Spencer claimed he accepted the plea only because his lawyer at the time – R.O. Murphy, a NAACP attorney from Greensboro – convinced him it was the only way to avoid the death penalty.

Parker rejected the motion for a new trial in June of 1997, but it was appealed and remanded to Dare County Superior Court on July 8, 1997.

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