Attorneys for convicted murderer Edward Hartman urged North Carolina governor Mike Easley to spare his life Tuesday, saying no one should be executed when prosecutors try to inflame jurors with mention of a defendant's homosexuality. "This case is an important case in North Carolina," said Hartman attorney Edwin L. West III. "It is never acceptable and never OK when a prosecutor in a case tries to inject prejudice and discriminates."
Hartman, 38, is scheduled to be executed at 2 a.m. Friday. He was moved Monday afternoon to the death-watch area of Central Prison. Hartman admitted killing 77-year-old Herman Smith Jr. in the Pinetops community of Northampton County in 1993. Smith was shot and killed in his home, where Hartman was living at the time. Northampton County prosecutor Valerie Mitchell Asbell said, after meeting with the governor, that appellate courts had already examined the issues regarding prosecutor David Beard's references to Hartman's sexuality in his questioning during the trial; they found no reason to reverse the case on those grounds, she said. "This is a case where the victim was 77 years old and killed in his home," Asbell said. "This killing was premeditated. It was a horrible killing."