A new television ad from the Republican National Senate Committee accuses the Democratic Senate candidate from North Carolina of being soft on crime.
The ad says Cheri Beasley “failed to protect” victims of crime. As footage rolls by showing crime scene tape, sad children and a hand that appears to be wet with blood, a narrator says:
“They were victims of violent crimes like murder and indecent assault and Chief Justice Cheri Beasley failed to protect them. The murderer who shot a boy in the face? Beasley overturned his death sentence.
“The man convicted of sexually assaulting a seven-year-old girl? She dismissed the indictment. And that’s just the beginning. We cannot trust Cheri Beasley to protect our families.
The ad includes some truth about Beasley’s actions while serving as a justice on the seven-member North Carolina Supreme Court, but omits case context that could give viewers the wrong impression of sanity. for which Beasley ruled as she did. Asked about the announcement, NRSC spokesman TW Arrighi sent an email containing web links to court opinions and news reports and wrote: ‘Every claim is substantiated.’ He did not comment further.
Let’s review the claims.
Death sentence overturned
The ad says Beasley overturned the death sentence of a man who shot a boy in the face, citing an August 2020 state Supreme Court ruling. There is some precision in that claim. , but it’s also a bit misleading and leaves out a lot of context.
The case was North Carolina State v. Marcus Reymond Robinson. Robinson had been removed from death row and sentenced to life imprisonment and the state Supreme Court was asked to assess whether a new law required Robinson to be returned to death row.
Robinson was sentenced to death in 1994 after a jury found him guilty of murdering 17-year-old Erik Tornblom by shooting him in the face with a sawed-off shotgun after he agreed to get Robinson into his car, according to the court. documents.
But in 2012, the case was reviewed under the North Carolina Racial Justice Act, a 2009 law that allowed death row inmates and those charged with capital murder to challenge their sentences on the grounds that they were influenced by racial prejudice. A Superior Court judge commuted Robinson’s sentence to life in prison after finding racism significantly influenced jury selection in the 1994 murder trial.
Then, in 2013, after Republicans took control of the state legislature, they repealed the Racial Justice Act and attempted to apply it retroactively, saying cases already heard under the act were canceled and that all pending cases had been dismissed.
This is where Beasley and the state Supreme Court come in. The court ruled 4 to 3 that Robinson could not be returned to death row as it would violate the dual criminality protections of the state and federal constitutions, and Beasley wrote the majority opinion. . At the time, the court had six Democrats and one Republican. The dissenters were two Democrats and the only Republican.
The ad says Beasley has overturned Robinson’s sentence. To be clear, Beasley’s decision had no bearing on the man’s freedom. He remains in jail.
“Dismissed the indictment”
The ad says Beasley “dismissed the indictment” of a man convicted of sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl. This claim, like the other, contains an element of truth but omits essential facts.
The case was North Carolina State v. Michael Lee White. White was convicted in 2015 of committing a sexual offense against a 7-year-old child. White appealed his conviction on the grounds that the indictment used to convict him did not include identifying information about the victim, as required by state law, which says this about indictments for sexual offences:
“If the victim is a person under the age of 13, it is sufficient to allege that the accused unlawfully, willfully and criminally engaged in a sexual offense with a child under the age of 13, naming the child and concluding as required by law.”
White’s indictment listed the child as “Victim #1.” The state Supreme Court, including Beasley, was asked to reconsider White’s case and the decision of the state Court of Appeals, which upheld his conviction because the identity of the victim appeared in other court documents.
In May 2019, the state Supreme Court ruled 4-2, with Beasley a majority, that White’s trial court judgment should be overturned because prosecutors failed to comply with state law. State. The decision was one vote less because Justice Mark Davis, who served on the Court of Appeals before joining the Supreme Court, did not participate in the case.
Beasley wrote the majority opinion, arguing that prosecutors failed to meet the standard of law required for indictments.
“The state admits that its intent was to conceal the identity of the child – an intent contrary to the purpose of the naming requirement: to provide notice of the essential elements of the crime with which the accused is charged,” a- she writes. “The wording of the law is clear and unambiguous: it requires that the child be named as part of the allegations in the indictment…The term ‘victim #1’ does not distinguish this victim from other children or victims.
White served about three years and nine months in prison before being released in June 2019, records show.
North Carolina Lawyers Weekly reported on the decision, as did the Carolina Journal, a publication of the conservative think tank John Locke Foundation. The Journal predicted that Beasley’s decision would one day be brought up during the election campaign.
The ad alleges Beasley “failed to protect” victims by overturning a man’s death sentence and dismissing the indictment of another man convicted of assaulting a minor.
In the death sentence case, Beasley spoke out against sending Robinson to death row. But the announcement leaves out two key facts: he had already been removed from death row and his decision kept a life sentence in place. It is therefore misleading to suggest that victims are not protected from a man who remains behind bars.
In the case of the minor, the announcement specifically states that Beasley has spoken in favor of dismissing the defendant’s indictment. He leaves aside the argument of Beasley and the majority of the court: that prosecutors failed to follow state law when charging the man involved.
The statement is partially accurate but omits important details or takes things out of context. We rate it half true.