Daniel Green won his first victory this week in a decades-long attempt to prove his innocence in the 1993 murder of James Jordan, the father of NBA superstar Michael Jordan.
The N.C. Court of Appeals reversed a trial court judge’s decision to deny a hearing on evidence his attorneys hope will clear Green’s name.
Here is what the latest decision means for the James Jordan case, now almost 30 years old:
Green was sentenced in 1996 along with childhood classmate Larry Demery for the shooting death of James Jordan, who was sleeping in his car in Robeson County.
At trial, Demery testified that he watched Green shoot Jordan, then helped dump the body in a South Carolina swamp.
“Larry Demery was not armed, did not point a weapon, did not shoot Mr. Jordan or shoot at Mr. Jordan,” his attorney Hugh Rogers told jurors at the time. “After (Green) shot Mr. Jordan, Larry asked him, ‘What did you shoot him for?’”
Green denied killing Jordan but was convicted and received a life sentence. Demery is scheduled for parole in 2024.
Green’s appeals attempts
Hundreds of pages of court documents outline Green’s appeals and attempts to get a new hearing, but his case found new light when the NC Center on Actual Innocence joined his side.
For more than a decade, attorneys have added new documents to his motion for a new hearing, with claims ranging from ineffective counsel to violations of due process of law.
The center lists negative blood evidence, a call to the Robeson County sheriff’s drug dealer son from Jordan’s car after the murder, and the lack of a corresponding bullet hole in the shirt Jordan was found wearing as pending claims.
A Superior Court judge in 2020 denied Green’s motion for relief.
What the appeals court order means
The appeals court overturned the judge’s decision so Green’s case now goes back to the trial court, where the evidence will be reconsidered. This does not guarantee a new trial but leaves the possibility open.