RALEIGH, N. C. – Lawyers for a man life in prison for the murder of Michael Jordan’s father asks for a new trial, saying someone tampered with the dead man’s shirt after his autopsy.
The autopsy found no hole in James Jordan’s shirt that corresponded to the bullet wound in his right breast, but an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation, later denied that on the witness stand, according to the lawyers filing in North Carolina’s Robeson County Superior Court.
“This newly discovered evidence of tampering is added to the growing list of legal issues and factual evidence that add weight to the conclusion that not only does Daniel Green deserves a new trial, but that he is innocent of the murder of James Jordan,” said Chris Mumma, executive director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, who recently joined the Green of the defense.
The attorney general’s office is reviewing Wednesday’s filing , a spokeswoman said Thursday.
The basketball great’s father was killed on 23 July 1993, in North Carolina. His body was found in a South Carolina swamp.
Green and Larry Demery were convicted after Demery testified during their study in 1996 that Green shot Jordan as he slept in his luxury car in Robeson County. Green has long claimed his innocence, telling WRAL-TV in 1998 that he was wrongfully convicted of pulling the trigger. Lawyers have filed previous movements over the year for a new trial.
Green admitted in the interview that he drove James Jordan’s Lexus, and wore his watch as a NBA championship ring that he received from his son. He also admitted that he helped dump Jordan’s body in South Carolina swamp.
Michael Jordan, now the owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, is one of the greatest professional basketball players of all time. He led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships, and in 1982, his game-winning shot led the North Carolina Tar Heels and the NCAA championship over Georgetown.
He and his father were close, evident in the photo of the two hugging after the Bulls won the 1992 championship.
In the Green 1998 interview, he said that he wrote a letter to Jordan’s family to explain his version of what happened and apologize.
This week’s court filing says the absence of a hole in the right breast is in contradiction with the plaintiffs’ theory that the Jordan was in his car when he was shot. “It also gives the strength to the defense of the theory that there is an argument between Demery and Jordan, which was held for the jury,” the court filing says.
The deposit is an unusual chain-of-custody for the shirt. It says Dr. Joel Sexton of Newberry, South Carolina, that the autopsy, gave it to a law enforcement officer who gave it to a citizen of a representative of a company that services the funeral home. The employee gave the shirt to his boss, who said that he buried in his backyard because of the smell.
When law enforcement later determined that the shirt was the evidence, the SBI worked with the South Carolina law enforcement officials digging up the shirt and transport to Raleigh. And it was then that an SBI agent reported the presence of a bullet hole in the right breast of the shirt, the filing says.
Koster had written in the autopsy report that he searched and found no corresponding hole in the right breast of the shirt that corresponded with James Jordan’s fatal wound. Instead, he found three holes in the vicinity of the shirt tail, ” he wrote. Those holes would line up with the fatal wound as the t-shirt were pulled up on one foot, he wrote — “if one could do if pulling a gun from their waist,” the court adds.
SBI Agent R. N. Mars testified that the hole he found in the shirt of “marked at the location where the fatal bullet transversed the victim on the clothing and in his body,” the filing says. “But Agent Mars offered no explanation for the three holes in the lower part of Jordan’s shirt that Dr. Koster the autopsy suggested were caused by the bullet. The officer of justice, that had once marked Dr. Sexton’s comments about the lack of a bullet hole in the chest of the shirt, not to ask about the three holes in the lower part of the shirt, and — very important for Mr. Green nor his defense attorneys.”
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