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Checking Beasley votes on 'armed kidnapper' and 'double murderer' cases
If Your Time is short
- The ad refers to the State v. Bobby E. Bowden and State v. Ramar Dion Benjamin Crump cases that the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled on in 2014 and 2020, respectively.
- In 2014, Beasley disagreed with the majority ruling that Bowden couldn't use good behavior credits to move up his release date.
- In the 2020 kidnapping case, Beasley joined the majority in ruling that a trial court erred in blocking Crump's defense team from questioning potential jurors about their possible racial biases.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee recently released its third installment in a series of ads attacking Democrat Cheri Beasley, a former chief justice on the North Carolina Supreme Court, who is running for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat against Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd.
In the ad, "Discovery," a narrator says:
"In stopping crime and holding criminals accountable, Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley has failed us.
"A teen murderer? She vacated the death sentence.
"An armed kidnapper? Beasley voted to reverse the conviction.
"An armed double-murderer? She voted for an early release.
"Time after time and case after case, Cheri Beasley protected criminals not victims.
"How can we trust her to protect our families?"
In a press release, NRSC spokesman T.W. Arrighi said the ad offers a glimpse of Beasley’s record "without sugarcoating the facts."
"The ad released today gives more examples of the violent criminals who Beasley protected. We hope voters will remember the victims when they vote in November," he said.
PolitiFact North Carolina already checked the claim about the vacated death sentence of a teen murderer, and rated it Half True because it left out key context. Another NRSC ad included misleading claims against Beasley that we rated Mostly False. Some television stations took it off the air, citing false or misleading claims.
"The fact is that as a judge and chief justice of the Supreme Court, Cheri held dangerous offenders accountable and worked with law enforcement to keep communities safe," Beasley spokeswoman Dory MacMillan said.
What about the NRSC’s latest claims about Beasley’s opinions regarding an armed kidnapping and a double murder?
The language in the ad provides some literal accuracy about Beasley’s actions on these two cases, while also omitting some details about the cases and process that led to her votes.
The NRSC said Beasley "voted to reverse the conviction" of an armed kidnapper. This refers to State of North Carolina v. Ramar Dion Benjamin Crump, which the state Supreme Court addressed in 2020. This case wasn’t about the defendant’s actions, but whether a Superior Court judge granted him a fair trial.
Crump was sentenced in 2016 to serve at least 72 years in prison for his role in a 2013 shoot-out with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police. His arrest that September connected him to a poker game that had been robbed a few days prior. He was convicted on two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, nine counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon, 10 counts of second-degree kidnapping and two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, WCNC reported.
On appeal, Crump’s team argued that the trial court violated the defendant’s rights when it prevented the defense from questioning prospective jurors about their possible racial biases.
The state argued that the defense wasn’t categorically prohibited from asking jurors about racial bias — just from asking the specific questions that defense attorneys were posing.
Writing for the majority, Justice Anita Earls wrote: "The fact that the trial court rejected three questions in a row that related to the topic of racial bias is strong evidence that ‘the trial court would have prohibited … further questions to the jurors’ about racial bias, even if defense counsel did not return to the subject again after being repeatedly denied."
The jurors’ biases were relevant to the case because Crump and police offered conflicting testimony over who opened fire first. Beasley sided with the majority in the 4-3 ruling that ordered a new trial.
State prison records show Crump, 32, was released from prison last August. His new trial is pending, a spokeswoman for the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office told PolitiFact on June 22.
In the ad’s last claim about a specific ruling, the NRSC ad narrator says Beasley "voted for an early release" of an "armed double-murderer." This refers to State of North Carolina v. Bobby E. Bowden, which was heard by the state Supreme Court in 2014.
Bowden was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of armed robbery on Dec. 15, 1975, and was sentenced to life in prison. In 2005, the year Bowden turned 56, his attorneys offered a two-pronged argument for why he should be released early: First, they said, state law defined a life sentence as 80 years in prison. Secondly, they said, he had earned enough "credits" for good behavior while in the prison system to be released in 2012.
The state Supreme Court ruled 4-2 that Bowden wasn’t eligible to have his sentence reduced, and could only use credits for extra benefits behind bars or to move up his parole eligibility, WRAL reported.
Beasley disagreed with the majority along with Associate Justice Robin Hudson, who pointed out in the dissent that the credits had already been applied and the lower courts supported the early release.
"The State is under no obligation to create or to award credits that reduce a prisoner’s sentence for a crime for which he was lawfully convicted," Hudson wrote. "But once it does so, it cannot then arbitrarily and with no process take those credits back."
State prison records show Bowden died in 2019 at age 69.
The NRSC ad says Beasley helped reverse the conviction of an armed kidnapper and, separately, voted to grant early release to a convicted double-murderer.
Beasley did vote to release a man convicted of armed robbery. The ad leaves out her reasoning: that the trial court erred in blocking the defense from questioning potential jurors about their possible racial biases.
The ad says Beasley voted to grant early release to a double-murderer. It omits that he had already served more than 30 years in prison and had accumulated credit for good behavior that lower courts believed could be used for early release.
The statements are accurate but need clarification or additional information. That’s our definition for Mostly True.
Video by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, "Discovery," posted June 14, 2022.
Email exchange with NRSC spokesman T.W. Arrighi.
Email exchange with Dory MacMillan, spokeswoman for U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley.
Opinion by the North Carolina Supreme Court in "State of North Carolina v. Ramar Dion Benjamin Crump," issued Dec. 18, 2020.
Opinion by the North Carolina Supreme Court in "State of North Carolina v. Bobby E. Bowden," issued Dec. 19, 2014.
Blog by NBC News, "NRSC knocks Cheri Beasley’s past rulings in new ad," posted June 14, 2022.
Story by the Charlotte Observer, "He got 100 years for shooting at police. Now a debate over racial bias prompts new trial," posted Dec. 24, 2020.
Story by WRAL, "NC Supreme Court: Life sentences mean life in prison," posted Dec. 19, 2014.
Story by the Fayetteville Observer, "N.C. Supreme Court hears arguments for, against release of convicted double murderer Bobby E. Bowden," posted April 15, 2014.
Story by WCNC, "Man gets 72 years for shooting at CMPD officers," June 7, 2016.
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Checking Beasley votes on 'armed kidnapper' and 'double murderer' cases
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