Today's Fayetteville Observer reports, "Capital punishment under close scrutiny in Fayetteville, statewide." It's a comprehensive look at the current climate in North Carolina written by Paul Woolverton.
Convicted murderer Marcus Robinson of Fayetteville was hours away from execution in 2007.
But his life was spared by a court-ordered stay to give him and other death row inmates a chance to challenge the constitutionality of the state's method of execution.
The delay turned into an unofficial moratorium on executions that nearly six years later remains unresolved in the courts.
For Robinson, the delay provided enough time to save him from the executioner's needle. This year, he became the first - and, so far, the only - North Carolina death row inmate to use a new law, the Racial Justice Act of 2009, to have his death sentence commuted to life in prison without parole.
Now, the Racial Justice Act, other changes to death penalty law and a decline in jurors' willingness to sentence inmates to death are raising questions about the future of executions in the state. It's unclear when the state will resume administering its ultimate punishment.
According to an Elon University poll, a majority of state residents support the death penalty. But statistics show a growing reluctance to hand down the penalty in court.
In 1999, 24 people were sentenced to death. In 2009, two were sentenced. This year, no one has been sentenced to death in the state, and no more capital trials are scheduled this year.
This will be the first year since the 1977 law when no one in the state has been sentenced to die.
Jurors are not as likely these days to hand down a death sentence, said Ken Rose, a lawyer with the Center for Death Penalty Litigation.
In 1994, North Carolina eliminated parole for people sentenced to life in prison. Rose thinks that when jurors are comfortable that a killer will never go free, they are less prone to vote for death.
An AP condensed version of the report is, "No one new on N.C. death row in 2012." It's via the Charlotte Observer.
North Carolina hasn't always been so ambivalent about executions. Juries in the state have sent 400 people to death row since the state's most recent death penalty law was passed in 1977. Forty-three of those people have been executed.
But the pace of new death sentences has slowed considerably. In 1999, 24 people were sentenced to death across North Carolina. In 2009, it dropped to two people, and this year, no new inmates will make it to death row.
Earlier coverage from North Carolina begins at the link.