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Appalachian presents series on capital punishment and wrongful conviction

BOONE—A series of discussions, films and a theatre presentation about the death penalty will be held in February at Appalachian State University.

The series titled “The Real Death Penalty: Capital Punishment in America” is sponsored by Appalachian’s departments of Anthropology, English, History, Political Science and Criminal Justice, Sociology and Social Work, and Theater and Dance.

The public is welcome. Admission is free unless otherwise noted. For more information, contact Dr. Matthew Robinson at 262-6560 or

“This is really the perfect time to focus on these topics as nationally all executions have been halted,” Robinson said. North Carolina hasn’t had an execution since August 2006. “There is a real re-examination of the death penalty right now. Driving this issue are wrongful convictions and the number of people who have being wrongly sentenced.”

Participating in a panel discussion is Darryl Hunt, the Winston-Salem resident who spent almost 20 years in prison after being wrongly convicted of murder. Charges against Hunt were dismissed in 2004 after DNA evidence linked another man to the crime.

Robinson opens the series with the talk “The Empirical Realities of Capital Punishment: Does It Work?

Is it Good Policy?” on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m. in Room 114 Belk Library and Information Commons. The presentation is based on Robinson’s book “Death Nation,” a summary of what is known about capital punishment based on empirical evidence.

“One of the issues I’ll talk about is wrongful conviction that will provide a context about issues related to capital punishment,” Robinson said.

The documentary film “The Thin Blue Line,” the true story of a wrongful conviction in Texas, will be shown Friday, Feb. 15, at 6:30 p.m. in Room 114 Belk Library. Information about the film is available at

The film “The Trials of Darryl Hunt” will be shown Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m. in Belk Library. More information about the film is available at

Darryl Hunt will join panelists Theresa Newman from Duke University Law School and Dr. Barbara Zaitzow from Appalachian’s Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice for the discussion “Never Truly Free: Bringing Voice to the Reality of Wrongful Convictions.” The presentation will be held Thursday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. in Room 114 Belk Library.

“My colleague Barbara Zaitzow is very active in research regarding wrongful convictions,” Robinson said. “We didn’t want to give audiences the impression that this only happens elsewhere. The best known case of wrongful conviction in the state is the Darryl Hunt case.”

The film “Deadline,” the true story of Illinois Gov. George Ryan who in 2002 commuted all death sentences in that state, will be shown Friday, Feb. 22, at 6:30 p.m. in Room 114 Belk Library. Film information is available at

Dr. Margaret Vandiver from the University of Memphis will present “The Human Costs of Homicide and Capital Punishment: Families of Victims and Offenders” Monday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. in Room 114 Belk Library.

Delbert Tibbs presents the talk “My Story: A Death Row Exoneree Speaks” Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 2 p.m. in Plemmons Student Union’s Table Rock Room.

The talk “Life After Death Row: Recovering from a Wrongful Capital Conviction” will be held Wednesday, Feb. 27, at 2:15 p.m. in Room 114 Belk Library. The presenters are Dr. Kimberly Cook from UNC Wilmington and Dr. Saundra Westervelt from UNC Greensboro.

The Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize winner “After Innocence” will be shown Friday, Feb. 29, at 6:30 p.m. in Room 114 Belk Library.

It is the true story of seven people who were freed from death row. Film information is available at

The Department of Theatre and Dance will present the play “The Exonerated” at 8 p.m. March 4-8, in I.G. Greer Studio. The play tells the true stories of six innocent survivors of death row in their own words, including Delbert Tibbs. Admission is $4. For more information, visit