In an article titled “No charges after man kills suspected robber” in the Saturday, September 19, 2009 News & Observer, Mecklenburg County District Attorney Peter Gilchrist stated that a 76 year old man who got in a car and drove in pursuit of four teens who had robbed him, acted in self-defense when he shot and killed a 15 year old suspect. Using twisted logic, that is not uncommon within the North Carolina justice system, D.A. Gilchrist explained that 76 year old C. L. McClure was merely trying to “delay the escape” of the teens who had allegedly participated in a home invasion at his Charlotte residence, when he grabbed his gun, jumped in his van, and took off in hot pursuit of the thieves. Mr. Gilchrist also maintains that Mr. McClure shot in self-defense because he believed his life was in danger. It is not illogical to believe that pursuing an armed robber would place the pursuer in danger, but does that give the pursuer a license to kill?
The last time I checked, it was not a capital offense to ransack a house and steal some jewelry and a wallet, but by enacting vigilante justice, Mr. McClure acted as judge and jury in finding the boy guilty, and executing his sentence of death for the 15 year old. Now, I do not condone crime, but this is an instance where the criminal penalty imposed by McClure is far too excessive, and D.A. Gilchrist, by his decision not to file charges, encourages future episodes of vigilante justice. One thing that is undoubtedly apparent is that the young man who was “executed” by Mr. McClure did not come from a family of wealth, prestige, and privilege… like the boys of the carpetbagger families in the Duke Lacrosse case. If the fatally shot teen had been from a well-heeled family, you can bet that District Attorney Gilchrist would’ve charged Mr. McClure with first degree murder. Such is the North Carolina system of “selective justice based on Class and Color.”
This is not the first time when there has been no action taken against a citizen who willfully took the life of another who was in the act of the commission of a crime. Years ago, Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle refused to file any charges against a man who used his pickup truck to pin a thief against a fence post. The thief, Cornelius Brown, died from injuries he received in this vehicular attack, but seeing as how he was a poor African American man, his life was not worth much in the North Carolina system of justice.
The North Carolina General Assembly may as well pass a law and make it official, that any poor person, especially of color, caught in the act of committing a crime can be legally killed by the victim or any other law-abiding citizen. That would at least relieve the district attorneys from having to come up with convoluted nonsensical explanations for not bringing charges against the executors when vigilante justice takes the life of one of the “dregs” of society.
It is prosecutors like District Attorney Peter Gilchrist and Johnston County Prosecutor Susan Doyle (of the Cornelius Brown case) who do not follow the intent of the law when determining who to prosecute and who not to charge. Had either of them been Durham District Attorney in 2006, there is no doubt that neither of them would have brought charges against the Duke Lacrosse student-athlete party-goers, regardless of the evidence. A dedication to the principles of fair play and equal justice for all, and not allowing Class and Color to enter into the equation when determining whether to prosecute a case, is absent in the aforementioned cases.
It is the rare district attorney who has the courage to bring charges that are just, but unpopular with those with wealth and who weld power and influence. The North Carolina State Bar, with the assistance of North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, made sure to disuade district attorneys from following principles of equal justice. This was achieved when it enacted the unjust and selective disbarment and treatment of Mike Nifong because of his actions in the Duke Lacrosse case.
Unless North Carolinians begin to think for themselves regarding criminal justice issues, and not depend on the biased media to think for them, then people in the state’s justice system will continue to treat residents of the state as idiots. The people must demand that those in power in the North Carolina justice system abide by the laws that are in place to protect society, and not try to skirt them in order to get a specific outcome.