13 November 2018 :
Buncombe County Judge Alan Z. Thornburg has re-sentenced James Morgan to life without possibility of parole, removing him from the state's death row. After consultation with the vicitim's family, the county district attorney agreed to drop the death penalty as a result of neuropsychological testing showed that Morgan had suffered from severe brain damage since childhood that significantly contributed to his conduct at the time of the offense. A Buncombe County jury at the time found that James Lewis Morgan, now 63, Black, on November 26, 1997 had stabbed Patrina King 48 times in front of his mother's home. In court Friday, nobody disputed Morgan's conviction. But Morgan's attorneys said that the court had violated their client's right to due process in handling his sentencing more than a decade prior. Morgan was represented by 5 different attorneys in a matter of months and had not been afforded proper psychological evaluation prior to his sentencing in 1999, which the Supreme Court has said is a necessary component of indigent defense services. As a result, the all-white jury that sentenced Morgan to death knew nothing of the severe traumatic brain injuries that Morgan had suffered "during the course of his life, starting in childhood." Though Morgan's crime was gruesome - and he'd been convicted of second degree murder in 1976 - neuropsychological testing conducted after his original sentencing showed that his cognitive ability had been severely limited due to trauma before he fatally stabbed King, his lawyers said.