Last updated: October 10, 2003

Eddie Hartman Scheduled to Die Because He is Gay
Organization Demands Clemency for North Carolina Death Row Inmate

by Amnesty International


(Washington, DC) ? Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) is demanding clemency for North Carolina death row inmate Eddie Hartman, a gay man scheduled for execution on October 3. The organization is deeply concerned that prosecutors used Harman's sexual orientation against him at the trial as
part of their successful bid to obtain a death sentence for the murder of Herman Smith, which took place in North Hampton County.


"Eddie Hartman's prosecutors blatantly played on jurors' homophobia and other prejudices in order to argue that since he was gay he deserved to die," said Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn, Director of AIUSA's Program to Abolish
the Death Penalty. "Such discrimination is in gross violation of numerous internationally binding treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the United States ratified in 1992."
Throughout the sentencing phase of Hartman's trial, prosecutors attempted to blunt mitigating evidence in favor of a sentence less than death by insinuating that because of Hartman's sexual orientation his personal
history of severe childhood abuse was irrelevant.

When Hartman's mother testified that he was repeatedly sexually abused as a child, the prosecutor cavalierly inquired, "[I]s not your son a homosexual?" The prosecutor further stated that, "it seems to me that if someone is a practicing homosexual, that that may in some way ? it's a little bit different for
someone being a practicing homosexual in his real life as opposed to someone who said he had been assaulted at some point in time."


"The unfortunate reality is that Eddie Harman's case is one of many in which men and women are on death row because they appeared to be charged ? first and foremost ? with homosexuality," said Michael Heflin, Director of
AIUSA's Outfront Program. "We have recently seen prosecutors emphasize the defendants homosexual identity in capital punishment cases in Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas."


Amnesty International has the deepest sympathy for the family and friends of Herman Smith. As an organization that works for and with victims, AIUSA believes that the death penalty is the ultimate human rights violation, and
that every execution is a symptom of a culture of violence, not a solution to it. The organization requests that activists send their appeals immediately to Governor Michael F. Easley, urging that Eddie Hartman be
granted clemency.