Application for acquittal or pardon

In 2001, a group of people consisting of, among othera members of The Wilkes Playmakers, and Ken Welborn, publisher of The Record of Wilkes, issued a statement, supported by signatures from people in the local area, that "acquitted Tom of all charges." The declaration was unofficial and had of course no legal consequence.

The group had submitted an application to the governor about getting Tom acquitted. This application referred to among other things, an alledged  letter from Judge Buxton to Judge Shipp, in which Buxton are supposed to have had asked Shipp to exclude certain testimonies to secure a conviction. Unfortunately I have not been able to find evidence of such a letter myself, but if it is correct, it is in itself enough reason that Tom should have been acquitted. The group also listed other things, such as conflicting testimony, that Pauline's testimony was not credible, etc., and that the circumstantial evidence was in general not sufficient to convict Tom of murder, in which I agree completely. However, one can only be acquitted by the same court by which you have been convicted, and this would mean, that to acquit Tom, the case would have had to go to court in Iredell County once more.

The group therefore altered the application to be an application for a posthumous pardon instead of an acquittal, although it is recognized that a pardon will not relieve Tom of the guilt, as a pardon doesn't acquit but forgive a crime. In 2002 the application was submitted to the governor along with 130 pages of documentation. In January 2009, just before he resigned as governor, the then governor of North Carolina, Mike Easley, rejected to pardon Tom Dooley. He gave no reason, and when The Recorder approached the law firm who had been responsible for the application in order to hear the explanation, the lawyers could only answer that the governor never justified his decisions in clemency proceedings, whether the result was a pardon or a rejection.

The group is now considering a renewed application to the new governor, Beverly Perdue, but has apparently not submitted one yet. In the eyes of the law Tom Dooley is still guilty and hasd not been pardoned for his sins. Sins I don't think he actually comitted.

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