Judge approves order keeping inmate mail away from police and prosecutors

No more mail intercepted by police in Catawba County

NEWTON, N.C. (WBTV) - Defense attorneys and prosecutors in a triple-murder case have agreed to keep investigators from collecting and seeing mail associated with the two defendants in the case.

Dontray Cumberlander and Greydon Hanson are both charged with first-degree murder and could face the death penalty if convicted. The two are accused of killing three people in the parking lot of a Hickory pub in the spring of 2017.

Last month it was learned that Hickory Police Investigators, for more than a year, asked the Burke-Catawba Confinement facility to copy all mail the two inmates were sending out and turn it over to them. Defense attorneys claimed that was a violation of the inmates’ rights and could lead to tainted evidence.

Judge Karen Eady-Williams last month ordered the practice stopped and that the letters already collected be put under seal until a hearing or an agreement could be reached on what to do with them. The defense and the state did come to an agreement today that the letters should be copied with defense teams getting them and another copy kept under seal with the clerk of court. Prosecutors will not be able to see them and police investigators will not either.

Attorney Lisa Dubs says defense teams will take a look at them and try to determine if any evidence was obtained by authorities by using them. If so, there is a possibility of more hearings on the matter and she said a remedy may be requested, possibly even asking that the death penalty be taken off the table. “At this point, everything is a possibility,” she said. Any more hearings, though, would take place before the trial judge.

So far, though, no trial date has been set and no judge assigned to that either.

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