North Carolina Death Row Inmate Writes Letter About Life of 'Leisure'
Danny Hembree Jr., 50, was convicted in 2011 of murdering a teenage girl.
Jan. 25, 2012 — -- A convicted murderer on death row in North Carolina wrote a taunting letter to his hometown newspaper about his life of "leisure" in prison and making a mockery of the legal system.
Danny Robbie Hembree Jr. was found guilty of murdering 17-year-old Heather Catterton in 2009 and was sentenced to death on Nov. 18, 2011.
Hembree, 50, is on death row at Central Prison in Raleigh, N.C., but he's not looking for any pity in the letter he sent to The Gaston Gazette.
"Is the public aware that I am a gentleman of leisure, watching color TV in the A.C., reading, taking naps at will, eating three well balanced hot meals a day," Hembree asked in the letter. "I'm housed in a building that connects to the new 55 million dollar hospital with round the clock free medical care 24/7."
He also asks if the public knows that the chances of his "lawful murder" taking place in the next 20 years, if ever, are "very slim."
Gaston County District Attorney Locke Bell said that he has received two distraught phone calls from Catterton's father today.
"I got a call from the father of the 17-year-old that he murdered, in tears. He said that this is tearing the family to shreds. This is ripping the wound open," Locke told ABCNews.com. "[The father] said, 'He murdered our daughter, got the death penalty and now he's just sitting in jail laughing at us.'"
Bell said that though the letter is upsetting, it also sheds light on a real issue.
"There's a part of me that wants everybody to read that letter because it tells a lot of truth about death row," Bell said.
Hembree has also been accused of killing two other women. One was 30-year-old Randi Dean Saldana, whose burnt remains were found near Blacksburg, S.C. in 2009. The other was 30-year-old Deborah Ratchford, whose body was found in 1992.
He admitted to taking drugs and having sex with Catterton and Saldana on the days they died, but told jurors he did not kill them or dispose of their bodies, according to ABC News' Raleigh-Durham affiliate WTVD. He is scheduled to go on trial for Saldana's killing in March.
Hembree confessed to killing the three women during recorded police interviews, but later said the confessions were an attempt to cover up a string of armed robberies, according to the Gaston Gazette.
In the letter, Hembree also mocks the judicial system.
"I laugh at you self righteous clowns and I spit in the face of your so called justice system. The state of North Carolina has sentenced me to death but it's not real," he wrote.
North Carolina State Representative Paul Stam told WTVD that the letter is a travesty of justice. He said that it is more likely that Hembree will die of natural causes than of the death penalty.
"His punishment does not fit his crime at all," Stam said.
Hembree tells the citizens of Gaston County, N.C., that they should petition that state and force them to carry out his "murder sentence."
"I am a man who is ready to except [sic] his unjustful punishment and face God almighty with a clean conscience unlike you cowards and your cowardly system," Hembree wrote. "Kill me if you can suckers. Ha! Ha! Ha!"
The letter is signed, "Sincerely, Danny Hembree."
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