GASTONIA -- Danny Hembree is the most recent person in North Carolina sentenced to death. He was convicted weeks ago and sentenced Friday, for killing 17-year-old Heather Catterton. Hembree's attorneys went on record, saying they will appeal the sentence.
Charlotte School of Law Professor Cindy Adcock said it could be ten years, if not longer, before Hembree is up for execution. She said some inmates in North Carolina have been on death row for decades.
"Most of the cases, most of the inmates on death row are being litigated around the racial justice act,” said Adcock. “That will have to be resolved before any case goes forward towards execution."
North Carolina also postponed executions because of lethal injection. Some argued it was cruel and a doctor shouldn't administer the deadly dose.
News 14 Carolina spoke with the Executive Director of The Death Penalty Information Center in Washington. Richard Dieter said only 15 percent of those sentenced to death since 1973 were executed.
"It's fairly typical these cases get overturned and then they get retried,” said Dieter. “When they get retried, the new sentence is less than death."
Dieter said some states are abolishing the death penalty. Illinois did so recently, saving the state about $100 million.
State district attorneys are trying to repeal the North Carolina Racial Justice Act.