WHAT: The Fourth Annual Freedom Ball — Join David LaMotte, River Guerguerian, Chris Rosser at 7 and Westsound at 9 to celebrate with NC death row exoneree Edward Chapman his fourth year of freedom after more than 15 years in prison for two murders he did not commit.
WHEN: Tuesday, April 3, from 7-11 p.m.
WHERE: The Grey Eagle Music Hall, 185 Clingman Avenue, Asheville, N.C.
CONTACT: Edward Chapman (828) 712 4572 ; Pam Laughon (828) 712-2114; Frank Goldsmith (828) 230-6977
Asheville — Don’t miss the fourth annual Freedom Ball at the Grey Eagle Music Hall on Tuesday, April 3, from 7pm till midnight, featuring an outstanding musical lineup — David LaMotte, River Guerguerian and Chris Rosser take the stage at 7; Westsound performs at 9 — celebrating the fourth anniversary of Edward Chapman’s release from North Carolina’s death row after spending more than thirteen years there for two murders he did not commit. The fundraiser for Chapman costs $15 and includes a silent auction.
Chapman was released from death row on April 2. 2008, after a judge ruled that police had withheld evidence of his innocence and lied at his trial, his lawyers were “ineffective” and one of the women Edward allegedly murdered probably wasn’t murdered at all. Chapman was the seventh man exonerated and released from North Carolina’s death row, and the 128th death row exoneree across the nation.
Chapman’s trial took place in Hickory, N.C., where Edward was born and spent most of his life. Upon his release, Chapman was encouraged to move to Asheville by UNCA Professor Pam Laughon, who served as the mitigation specialist on the defense team that finally won Edward’s freedom. His lead defense attorney on the post-conviction team was local attorney Frank Goldsmith.
Attorney Goldsmith says of Chapman, “What a remarkable man! Never did Edward give up, in his many long years on death row, when it seemed no one cared about him or his case.” Chapman’s other attorney, Jessica Leaven Friedman of Chapel Hill, says, “Everything you can imagine going wrong in a capital case went wrong.”
Besides his regular job, Chapman takes any odd job he can get, and he volunteers his time to speak to youth, college students, churches, and other groups and organizations, and to lobby for criminal justice reforms. Chapman was featured in the powerful video that helped win passage of the NC Racial Justice Act in 2009. “Don’t look at me as a victim,” says Chapman. “Look at me as a survivor.” Chapman is an inspirational and amusing speaker, captivating audiences with his humor and his folk wisdom.
Nevertheless, Chapman has not received any compensation for his wrongful conviction and incarceratio. The campaign for a Pardon of Innocence from the governor’s office continues, and Chapman’s attorneys still hope for some kind of compensation from the Hickory police department, but Chapman tries to take life day by day. “I can’t afford to lose any more time,” he says with a grin.