Glen Edward Chapman, a North Carolina man who was sentenced to death for the 1992 murders of Betty Jean Ramseur and Tenene Yvette Conley, was released from death row on April 2 after prosecutors dropped all charges against him. In 2007, North Carolina Superior Court Judge Robert C. Ervin granted Chapman a new trial, citing withheld evidence, “lost, misplaced or destroyed” documents, the use of weak, circumstantial evidence, false testimony by the lead investigator, and ineffective assistance of defense counsel. There was also new information from a forensic pathologist that raised doubts as to whether Conley’s death was a homicide or caused by an overdose of drugs.

Chapman’s lawyers, Frank Goldsmith and Jessica Leaven, were pleased with their client’s release. “Edward has always maintained, and we have always believed in, his innocence,” said Goldsmith. “Justice has not been served for the families of Ms. Ramseur and Ms. Conley, and we hope their deaths will be reinvestigated.” The state has also called for a re-opening of the investigation.

Judge Ervin found fault with Chapman’s defense attorneys at the original trial in 1994, one of whom has been disciplined by the North Carolina State Bar. The other defense attorney, Thomas Portwood, admitted drinking 12 shots of alcohol per day during a different death penalty trial. The defendant in that case, Ronald Frye, was executed in 2001.
(“Death Row Inmate Freed After 15 Years,”, April 2, 2008; also Press Release from attorneys Goldsmith and Leaven, April 2, 2008). View Press Conference after Chapman’s Release (select “video”). See Innocence. Glen Chapman is the 128th person to be exonerated and freed from death row since death sentences resumed in 1973. He is the 7th inmate freed from North Carolina and the 2d in four months.