March has been a good month for advocates against the death penalty in North Carolina. In the seventh straight trial, a Wake County jury has considered all the evidence and returned a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. By rejecting the death penalty, juries in Wake County are reflecting the trends across the nation against the death penalty. A Wake County jury has not returned a death sentence since 2007.
Nathan Holden, convicted of the murders of his in-laws and beating of his ex-wife, was facing the death penalty. The News and Observer reported that a jury of 9 men and 3 women considered over 30 mitigating factors when determining if Holder should be put to death. Ultimately, they rejected death.
In 2016, Wake District Attorney Lorrin Freeman expressed that it may be time to rethink pursuing the death penalty in future cases. Despite that, death penalty cases are still tried in Wake County. Hopefully, this seventh rejection of the death penalty will encourage DA Freeman to follow the lead of her citizens and stop pursing the death penalty all together.
The trend away from the death penalty is not confined to Wake County. According to the News and Observer, there were only 5 death penalty trials in all of North Carolina last year. Four of those five trials resulted in life without parole sentences.