Death Penalty

Death Row Inmate Taunts Community in Letter to Hometown Newspaper

A death row inmate in North Carolina has written a taunting letter to his hometown newspaper in which he gloats about his life in prison and dares the state to carry out his scheduled execution.

“Kill me if you can, suckers, Ha! Ha! Ha!” Danny Robbie Hembree Jr., wrote in a letter to the editor (PDF) published Tuesday in the Gaston Gazette. “I laugh at you self-righteous clowns and I spit in the face of your so-called justice system.”

Hembree, 50, is on death row for the 2009 murder of a 17-year-old Gaston County woman. He is also accused of two other killings: the 1992 murder of a 30-year-old Gaston County woman and the 2009 murder of 30-year-old South Carolina woman, the Associated Press reports.

In the handwritten letter, Hembree wonders if the public is aware that the appeals process will prevent him from being executed for 20 years or more. He also asks if the public is aware that he is a “gentleman of leisure,” watching color TV in an air-conditioned cell, reading, taking naps at will and eating three well-balanced meals a day.

He also notes that the prison where he is incarcerated is connected to a $5.5 million hospital, where he says he is entitled to free, round-the-clock medical care.

Hembree also claims in the letter to have accepted his fate, calling himself a man who is “ready to except (sic) his unjust punishment and face God almighty with a clear conscience, unlike you cowards and your cowardly system.”

The publication of Hembree’s letter sparked a strong response from the newspaper’s readers. Some said he should be executed immediately. But others questioned the wisdom of giving him the publicity.

City Editor Leo Hohmann defended the decision to publish the letter, however, saying the public should be aware of Hembree’s attitude towards the death penalty, the Associated Press reported.

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