SB 306 passed concurrence in the Senate. Civitas has shared many stories of families who are the real victims of the Racial Justice Act. After SB 306 passed through the Senate and House, we began to hear from other families and how the Racial Justice Act affected them. Families know the fight and closure are long from over, but they are relieved the Racial Justice Act will be no more.
Below is a piece from a victim’s family that details many of the emotions one goes through when someone is murdered, and when they realize closure is jeopardized. The picture below is of Deborah Jane Henley.
The Racial Justice Act is a ridiculous and heart-breaking piece of legislation has been shielded by the fear and threat of appearing racist if you oppose it. I should know. I have been accused of such in opposing it. I have been called racist. (I am bi-racial, white and Asian). I have been called ignorant. (I graduated cum laude from Salem College and am a certified research coordinator and project manager for a teaching hospital where I work with both NIH-funded and pharmaceutical company-funded research trials.) I have been called closed-minded — among other things.
The truth is I am a pretty passionate liberal. I believe whole-heartedly in equal rights for all and have openly and proudly demanded equality for all races and sexual orientations. I admit this state has a tainted past when it comes to race relations and I do not doubt the accuracy of the research that shows a bias in the prosecution of its accused. I also know this: I actually took the time to understand what the Racial Justice Act (RJA) said, something I am positive Bev Perdue did not do.
With the RJA, this state handed a “freebie” to every death row inmate who could take the time to appeal. It has cost this state an unimaginable amount in filing fees, court fees, attorney’s fees alone. Would that cost be worth it to save an innocent life? Of course, but this act did not have that intention. This act was another way to abolish the death penalty in this state, without having the courage to reveal what it truly was. Those who support this act know not what they support. This law is robed in its disguise of “racial justice” when in reality it makes a mockery of the idea. It uses the anger and passion people rightfully have against the injustices of racism to conceal the law as it changes our state entirely. It is a Trojan Horse, disguising its true effect of re-victimizing the families of homicide victims.
I am ashamed that under normal circumstances I would probably have followed suit and like a sheep gotten in line to defend this legislation. The idea is a grand one and a noble one. This act however does not protect us from racism, not at all. With RJAs open language and dependency on statistics over evidence, it is laughable to think it would protect anyone or anything. There is no nobility to it.
So why did I research this act? Why am I writing? Because in this case I am not a researcher, I am not a liberal, I am not an activist, I am not a protestor — I am a homicide survivor.
In 1991, when I was only 7 years old, Carl Stephen Moseley (a white male) sexually assaulted and murdered my aunt, Deborah Jane Henley (a white female). He did not “just” murder her; he tortured her. She was stabbed multiple times, beaten brutally, had incisions down her chest, was sexually assaulted with a blunt object, and ultimately strangled. She did not know Moseley. She did not seek him out; he found her. He had done this before (to another white female).. Newspaper articles have even hinted at blaming the victim. My aunt was at a night club and I guess that made her deserve what happened. Funny how the most “equality-minded” “journalists” can become everything they claim to hate and blame a woman for violence against her when it suits their needs and supports their argument.
I was 7 years old and I remember every minute of the ordeal: the phone call, the waiting, the cameras, the trial. I was in 2nd grade and became used to being picked up from school to accompany my mom back to court where the trial was going on. She says she needed me there. She needed to know I was safe. On that July night in 1991 when Carl Moseley killed my aunt, he also killed a part of each member of my family.
As I grew I researched more and more about the trial and the trial summary, trying to understand why. Why did he have to do this? Why so violent? Why?
There is no answer. Men like Carl Moseley are monsters. My family has suffered enough and is being re-victimized by this state and the supporters of the RJA. A large part of me believes another execution will never occur in North Carolina. There always seems to be some reason to delay the execution of these horrible human beings. I pray I am wrong. I pray my mother will get to watch Carl Moseley take his last breath, and though I know this will not heal the hurt or bring my aunt back, it will restore some part of my family’s belief in justice — an eye for an eye — that is true equality.
For the first time in a while I have a glimmer of hope that day may come. Thank you for fighting for a worthy cause and not being intimidated by the name-calling and misconceptions of those who oppose you.
With much gratitude,
Ashley Widener McFadden
(on behalf of the family of Deborah Jane Henley (1953-1991))