Waiting to die: Rowan County holds four spots on death row


SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - On Friday Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook announced that she would seek the death penalty for murder suspects Khari McClelland and Jalend Turner if they are convicted of killing Rowan County volunteer firefighter Marcus Kauffman.

Kauffman was shot to death with his own gun when he discovered two men breaking into and stealing from his Cleveland home in December.

If McClelland and Turner were to be convicted and placed on death row, they would join 153 other convicts, including four from Rowan County who are awaiting execution.

James Adolph Campbell has been on death row since his conviction on first degree murder in July 1993.

Campbell stabbed Katherine Price in the neck 22 times and left her body in a field in the Millbridge area of Rowan County.  Price had also been raped twice by Campbell, according to court records.

During his time awaiting execution, Campbell has racked up 57 infractions in prison, including several drug charges, assaults, and just this past April, attempting to bribe a guard.

Frank Chambers and William Barnes have been on death row since March of 1994.  The two were convicted in the brutal murder of B.P. and Ruby Tutterow during an armed robbery at the couple's home on Park Avenue in Salisbury.

The murder of the well known elderly couple shocked the community.  Both were shot multiple times.

During the trial Barnes actually showed up in court wearing jewelry stolen from the Tutterows during the crime.

Barnes has committed 112 infractions in prison, most of which came after his murder conviction in 1994.  The infractions include gang involvement, fighting, weapon possession, faking illness, setting a fire, flooding his cell, and committing 33 sexual acts.

The most recent Rowan County entry on death row is Wesley Toby Smith, Jr.

Smith stabbed Margaret Martin more than 60 times in the back, head, and chest on September 12, 2001.  Smith was convicted and given the death penalty in May of 2002.

State records show that North Carolina carried out its first execution in 1910.  Walter Morrison of Robeson County was put to death in the electric chair for a rape conviction.

The last person to be put to death in North Carolina was Samuel R. Flippen of Forsyth County.  Flippen was convicted of beating his two year old stepdaughter to death.

Flippen was executed in August of 2006.

Sidney T. Finger was the first person from Rowan County to be executed.

Finger was convicted of murder and executed in 1914.  Others from Rowan who have been executed include Jim Cooper in 1916, Baxter Cain in 1918, David Devlin in 1928, and Bernice Matthews and J. W. Ballard in 1931.

The inmate who has been on North Carolina's death row for the longest period of time is Wayne Laws of Davidson County.

Laws was sentenced to death on August 20, 1985 after being found guilty of first degree murder.

It is unknown when and if the death penalty will be ever be carried out again in North Carolina.

North Carolina has had a de facto moratorium on the death penalty since 2006 due to various lawsuits that have challenged the legality of the death penalty, and litigation over the Racial justice Act is continuing for some cases.

In 2013 there were only five capital cases tried across North Carolina, with only one actually resulting in a death sentence.

Capital punishment is legal in 32 states.  Maryland became the most recent state to do away with the death penalty.

Across the country there are slightly more than 3000 inmates on death row in those 32 states.