The shooting deaths of two Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officers, Sean Clark and Jeffrey Shelton, that occurred last weekend undoubtedly will spark discussions about the death penalty in the months, even years, to come. For most people who don’t oppose capital punishment, the killing of a cop is a crime that most strongly demands a death sentence.
But it doesn’t always happen. The man convicted of fatally shooting Wake County Sheriff’s Investigator Mark Reid Tucker in February 2004 was given life in prison.
Lt. Glenn Harold Hicks of the Avery County Sheriff’s Office was killed in February 2003 with a shotgun by a man later found incompetent to stand trial.
And Detective Donald Miller of the New Bern Police. Miller was shot December 2001 as he was leaving a hospital where he was visiting his newborn child. His killer was sentenced to life.
The last man convicted of killing a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer, however, is on death row. Officers Anthony Alford “Andy” Nobles, 26, and John Burnette, 25, were shot while chasing a suspect in southwest Charlotte.
In June 2005, I spoke briefly with Noble’s father, about his feelings on capital punishment for a story about a proposed moratorium. Bobby Nobles, sounding somber and thoughtful, said this:
“It’s a terrible thing, but you have to have some type of checks-and-balances (against crime) and right now, I feel like that is the strongest thing we have. I’ve thought about it; I’ve prayed about it. And I still feel like we have to have something. Until we come up with something better, I feel like that it was one of the tools we have to work with.”