HENDERSON, NC (FOX Carolina)- A hearing is underway this week to determine whether a judge will remove District Attorney Greg Newman from office.
Newman oversees Transylvania, Polk and Henderson counties in Western North Carolina. In an affidavit we recently got ahold of, a family has come forward calling for Newman to be removed from office, accusing him of misconduct. That accusation is what led to this week's hearing.
Newman declined a request to interview with us, but in Monday's hearing, Newman was asked if he stands by the he handled the case. He said 'yes."
A second family who we sat down with submitted a letter to the court last month, also calling for Newman to be removed. Fox Carolina's Shale Remien has been digging into this story and spoke to the family of James Stepp. Stepp was a man killed in a Henderson County shooting in 2019.
"I miss his big hugs so bad. He could just wrap his big arms around me, he just made everything better," said James' sister, Kim Shepherd.
James Stepp, also known as Pup, was his dad's best friend, a momma's boy, and his sister Kim's protector.
"We're such a tightknit group, we're forever changed," she said.
We've been following Stepp's story for years.
"He has always stood up for me and always protected me and now it's time for me to protect him," Shepherd said.
Shepherd told me those same words back in 2019, when her crusade for justice began.
"These past couple of years have been extremely difficult for my family and I."
Shepherd said Pup and his son went to a Hendersonville shop in 2019, when police say an argument broke out and then gunfire. Police say the then-owner of the shop shot Pup several times in the parking lot. Pup lost his life on his birthday and no arrests were made.
"He was a right fighter, he always stood up for what was right and I'm going to do that for him and this is the only way I know to do that," Shepherd said.
Shepherd said her fight begins with the district attorney overseeing her brother's case, Greg Newman.
Less than three weeks after the fatal shooting, we were there as District Attorney Greg Newman announced no charges would be made in the case, citing the castle doctrine. The stand your ground law states you "have the right to use reasonable force, including deadly force to protect against an intruder."
In a press conference at the time, Newman said facts supported self-defense in Stepp's death. We reached out to Newman's attorney for an updated statement on the case, but we did not receive a response.
"My brother was not an intruder, he was not an unlawful intruder, he wasn’t armed. And it was at a place of business, a public business where he was coming to return an air compressor where he was actually invited on that piece of property. So the use of the Castle doctrine, I feel like was just an excuse to not prosecute because all of the evidence was there," Shepherd said.
Shepherd filed a letter with the court calling for Newman's removal, saying she believes evidence was withheld in the case. Shepherd said she couldn't share more details on the evidence with us at the this time due to a civil lawsuit the family has filed against the store owner in the case who has since passed away. The lawsuit is still pending against the estate. We reached out to the store owner's attorney for comment for haven't heard back.
“Greg Newman should’ve sent my brother's case before a grand jury, he was judge and jury. At the time we didn’t have all the evidence and now we do and we know that there should have been arrest made. He should’ve prosecuted my brother's case," Shepherd said.
Shepherd quickly realized her road wasn't as lonely as she thought. An affidavit filed in February shows another woman has come forward accusing Newman of violating rules of professional conduct.
According to court records, a superior court judge who reviewed the affidavit said if some of the allegations were true, they could constitute "willful misconduct in office." The hearing for this case began Monday.
"Newman is supposed to serve our community, he was elected to serve our community and help our most vulnerable, our children, our most innocent victims," Shepherd said.
Newman's attorney David Freedman released a statement ahead of the removal hearing, saying: "Newman's been the DA since 2013 and has been elected twice since then. He takes his job seriously to protect the people of those three counties and he's going to do everything he can to maintain his positions. He feels a huge obligation to the people who entrusted him with the position."
"You know anybody can talk, but your actions are what speak volumes and his actions have spoken volumes to all of us in Henderson, Transylvania, and Polk counties,' Shepherd said.
Reports we've gathered from the North Carolina State Bar show Newman was reprimanded for professional misconduct in 2019 and disciplined this year for violating rules of professional conduct. According to the records, a judge gave Newman a 3-year stayed suspension after a victim in a 2015 child rape case came forward, saying she wanted to give a statement in court but claims Newman told a judge she didn't wish to speak. Newman can still practice law under that discipline order.