The Associated Press
GREENSBORO, N.C.- A man who spent 11 years on death row and came within hours of execution deserves a new trial because police did not turn over files that could have helped clear him of murder, a judge has ruled.Judge John O. Craig III notified lawyers in an e-mail over the weekend of his decision in the case of Charles Walker, who was condemned for the 1992 slaying of a man prosecutors said was trying to interfere with Walker's illegal drug business at a public housing complex.
Walker's appeals lawyer, Jonathan Megerian, delivered the news to Walker in prison and described him Tuesday as being "very relieved" and "very happy that justice prevailed."
Walker, 40, was accused of shooting Tito Davidson several times and slashing his throat in an apartment. Neither Davidson's body nor any blood, DNA or other physical evidence was ever located.
The judge issued a stay in the case late last year. It was later upheld by the state Supreme Court just hours before Walker, who professed his innocence, was to die by injection.
Craig later ordered the state to hand over two police files withheld from the defense. Walker's lawyers argued that information in the files could have been used to undermine the credibility of a key prosecution witness and possibly identify another person as the killer.
Retired investigators testified at a hearing this month that no one told them to conceal or withhold the files, but neither could say why the defense did not receive the materials.
A spokesman for Attorney General Roy Cooper said the state's legal team will not decide whether to appeal until Craig issues a formal ruling.