ASHEVILLE, NC (FOX Carolina) - Buncombe County District Attorney Todd Williams said a judge has re-sentenced death row prisoner convicted in 2009 for a woman’s killing to life in prison without parole.
James Morgan, now 63, was initially sentenced to death for the killing of Asheville resident Patrina King. Williams said the jury in the 1999 conviction heard no evidence of Morgan's documented severe brain damage or of his long history of erratic behavior, which began after he fell out of a moving car at 9 years old. Neuropsychological testing conducted after Morgan's conviction showed that the crime stemmed from the severe brain damage he had had since childhood. Before this 1999 trial, Williams said Morgan had only a cursory psychological exam and was never evaluated by a neuropsychologist due to the lack of time and resources allotted to his legal team.
"True criminal justice requires that we take corrective action when we identify an injustice," Williams said in a news release. "In this instance, consideration of the evidence and law make it clear that the trial violated Morgan's constitutional rights. For those reasons and in light of consultation with Patrina King's father, who stated he did not support the death penalty, I consented to the defendant's Motion for Appropriate Relief, which requested re-sentencing the defendant based on consideration of all available evidence and law."
The judge's decision is a final resolution that ends all appeals in this case.
“In recent conversations with members of Ms. King’s family, they expressed to me that they have suffered terribly since her death and they will always feel the loss,” Williams said. “What the judge has made possible today is a permanent resolution so that the family will no longer need to keep track of any appeals or be ready to rally for a new trial. Morgan will spend the rest of his life in prison for the murder of Ms. King."
Patrina King's brother declined to comment after the new sentence was issued.