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death penalty news----NORTH CAROLINA
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Rick Halperin
2017-10-02 10:58:35 UTC
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Oct. 2




NORTH CAROLINA:

Death penalty trial starts Monday in Greensboro



A Greensboro man fought for his life and survived a mortar attack in Iraq only
to die 9 years later after being set on fire in a hotel room.

Now another Greensboro man, 29-year-old Garry Joseph Gupton, faces the death
penalty in that killing.

Gupton, a former Greensboro Water Resource Department employee, is charged with
1st-degree murder in the death of 46-year-old Stephen Patrick White. His trial
started Sunday.

Greensboro police said they believe Gupton beat White before setting him on
fire in Room 417 of the Battleground Inn at 1517 Westover Terrace in
Greensboro.

Police and firefighters found White at 4:32 a.m. Nov. 9, 2014, after a report
of a man on fire on the 4th floor of the hotel. They found an unconscious White
severely burned, suffering from smoke inhalation and injuries consistent with
an assault.

Doctors had to amputate both of his arms and an autopsy shows he suffered burns
on more than 1/2 his body.

He died 6 days after the assault at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

In May 2016, Assistant District Attorney Robert Enochs announced he would seek
the death penalty against Gupton because his alleged actions were especially
heinous, atrocious and cruel; that the killing was committed during the
secondary crime of arson and that it was committed at a great risk of death to
other people in the hotel.

White served in the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg and the
Joint Security Force in Korea. He also worked for the U.S. Border Patrol,
Federal Air Marshal Service and Blackwater Security, according to his obituary.

Friends and family remembered White as a wonderful person, with a strong work
ethic, kind soul, caring heart and warm personality, according to an online
memorial page. His family declined an interview ahead of the trial.

Gupton has remained in the Guilford County jail since his arrest in November
2014.

On Wednesday, Gupton's attorneys Ames Chamberlin and Wayne Baucino said they
plan to admit guilt on Gupton's behalf to some of the charges. However, the
attorneys said their client will plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

Guilford County Chief Assistant District Attorney Howard Neumann said
prosecutors have had to wait until this week to bring Gupton to trial because
he was undergoing testing for his insanity plea. Neumann said Gupton was
determined to be competent to stand trial.

If convicted, he would be the 1st person from Guilford County since 2011 sent
to death row. There are 145 people on death row in North Carolina.

The Guilford County Clerk of Courts office anticipates at least 180 residents
to appear in court today for jury selection. Court officials anticipate that
jury selection will take at least a week in what is expected to be a 3- to
5-week trial.

The attorneys and the judge have concerns about making sure they select a fair
and impartial jury because of some of the topics that will come up in evidence.

One of the main concerns is that White and Gupton met the night of the attack
at the Chemistry Nightclub, a gay bar and lounge in Greensboro.

"I think that someone who believes that all homosexuals are sinners and should
be sent off somewhere can't be fair and impartial," Baucino told Superior Court
Judge Michael Duncan during last week's hearing.

Baucino and Chamberlin compiled a questionnaire to gauge jurors??? feelings
about mental health issues, homosexuality and the death sentence. Potential
jurors will fill out the questionnaire before being divided into groups to be
brought into the courtroom for questioning. The questioning will help determine
if the jurors can be fair and impartial to both the defendant and the victim.

(source: Greensboro News & Record)
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