Clifton Spencer seeks trial; arguments under advisement
Published 2:50 am Tuesday, March 31, 1998
After hearing witnesses for both sides, Judge J. Richard Parker took under advisement the request of Clifton Spencer for a trial on the murder charge for which he is serving a life sentence. He said he would notify both sides by mail.
In January, 1991, Spencer pleaded no contest to the bloody murder of Manteo waitress Stacey Stanton the year before, on the advice of his attorney, R.O. Murphy.
Spencer is now claiming that his attorney never told him that the hairs found on Stanton were not Negroid and that he was never told of testimony that might have pointed to another person, Stanton’s boyfriend Michael Brandon, as having a strong motive to kill her.
Dawn Tramontano Beacham, who was working at the Green Dolphin, said she overheard Patti Roe, who was another of Brandon’s girlfriends and was pregnant by him, threaten “to kill” Stanton.
Lt. Col. Jasper Williams of the Dare County Sheriff’s Office, a detective in the case, said Tramontano Beacham did not initially tell him of the threat.
The hearing rests on whether or not Spencer made an informed decision to plead no contest to second degree murder in the case.
District Court Judge Edgar Barnes testified earlier in the day Monday. He was the defending attorney in the last hearing in which Spencer asked for a trial, and the request was denied at that time.
Barnes said he wasn’t convinced that the SBI investigation gave enough consideration to Brandon as a prime suspect. He said, “‘They considered him and then they dropped him like a hot potato.”
Spencer also testified, giving a very rehearsed version of the events, and he was defended by Letitia Echols, all attorney with N.C. Prisoner Legal Services. Robert Trivette and Amber Davis prosecuted.
During the original investigation Patti Roe and another friend, Barbara McGuiness, gave Brandon an alibi when they said that Brandon and Roe had spent the night of the murder in McGuiness’ apartment.
Brandon’s hair was never tested to determine if the hair found on Stanton, which was thought to be that of her killer, was his or not.