Friday, October 03, 2003

October 3, 2003

...yea, it was gay bias. The bullet to the back of the 77-year old man's head while the victim watched television in a recliner, the taking the man's car and leaving the body in the chair and finally, five days later, bothered by the smell and dragging the body to a stable and burying it had nothing to do with it. It was gay bias.

Last meal: At 5 p.m., Hartman received his last meal -- a Greek salad, linguini with white clam sauce, cheese cake with cherry topping, garlic bread and a Coke.

The skinny: Hartman admitted to police that after drinking 16 beers he shot the 77-year-old victim in the head from close range while the man sat in a recliner and watched television. The vitim was a former boyfriend of Hartman's mother and Hartman was living at his house. Hartman told a friend the man was wealthy and carried thousands of dollars in his pocket. He took the man's car and left the body in the chair. Hartman wrote checks on the dead man's bank account. Five days later he returned and buried the body in a horse stable then led authorities there after learning he was a suspect.

Legal Machinations:In an appeal, defense lawyer Heather Wells of said a prosecutor unfairly referred to Hartman's homosexuality repeatedly during the trial.

After his conviction, he sought a life sentence based mostly on his traumatic upbringing, including suffering sexual abuse as an 8-year-old boy, when an uncle repeatedly made him perform oral sex.

Hartman's lawyers argued that he might have received life in prison instead of a death sentence if District Attorney David Beard had not improperly said several times in front of the trial jury that Hartman was gay, apparently trying to minimize his sexual abuse.

Each time, the judge told the jurors to disregard the improper remarks. But not a single juror concluded that Hartman's repeated sexual abuse mitigated his sentence, although factors such as seeing his mother's abuse and suicide attempts did.

The state's lawyers maintain that the jury didn't consider Hartman's childhood abuse a mitigating factor because there wasn't credible evidence of it.

The jury found that Hartman's robbery of Smith outweighed five mitigating factors, including Hartman's alcoholism.

Several gay organizations, gay officials and critics of the death penalty had urged Easley, a former district attorney, to grant Hartman clemency and publicly disapprove of Beard's tactics.

Last Words and such: Hartman issued no final statement. He appeared to say "hi" or "hey" to attorney Heather Wells through a window shortly after he was brought into the death chamber and then smiled before turning away.

He didn't acknowledge any of the other 11 people who watched his execution, choosing to alternately close his eyes and stare at the ceiling until prison medical workers began to administer the lethal drugs.

Factoids: About 100 people opposed to the death penalty gathered outside the prison late Thursday, many holding candles and singing. Eight or nine protesters sat in a driveway blocking traffic into the prison. No arrests were reported.

Hartman's execution was the state's fourth in six weeks.

Hartman was the....

57th murderer executed in U.S. in 2003
877th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
4th murderer executed in North Carolina in 2003
27th murderer executed in North Carolina since 1976