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  1. #1
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    NC - Campus Walk Apartment Fire - Greensboro 2002

    So, I wanted to post about this some time ago, but it seemed a little outdated.

    Now, the young lady who plead guilty at basically her first appearance to the four deaths that resulted from the Campus Walk Apartments fire is applying for clemency. It seems more relevant, so i thought I might start a discussion to work out some of the things going on for me and see what some of my sloofers and colleagues think.

    First of all, a little on me: I'm a fierce victims' advocate and very anti-domestic violence. I am extremely critical as well of the flaws that keep from solving some of the larger issues in our justice system. I like to see people fairly convicted and cases that are free of appeal. I grew up fighting for the underdog and protecting those around me and will never lose that edge. I usually take a perspective opposite of the prosecution (even in threads here) and poke and prod until I am personally satisfied with the proceedings. Most of my fellow websleuthers know this and have willingly allowed me the latitude to do things my way as I respect their wishes as well. I would not be on this site if it were not for having googled some victim of some horrible crime at some point in time and landing here. And, as many of you would share, my primary motivating factor is the "Why?"

    My high school years were very volatile. My father was sick much of the time with a cancer that had been deemed incurable and I was already an outside force in many of the campus groups, getting along with nearly everyone, but not really close to anyone. My younger brother and sister and I have always been close friends and I have a few cousins that were always around.

    One of the people that was there in sports/music/drama/nerd-dom/loner-dom with me is the young lady who started this fire. She was a year behind me and her sister and i were in the same class. We were off-again/on-again close. I would say there was not enough distance to call us acquaintances nor enough proximity to consider us close friends. We ran in the same circles and would frequently be at the same gatherings or events well past the ending helping with clean-up and making sure that everyone involved was safe, happy and as healthy when they left as when they came. JD (initials for the young lady) was an inherently great person. Not just a good person, a great one. The only thing she didn't conquer wholeheartedly was boys (and the relationship with them). I don't know why that was. It was almost as if the phrase late bloomer was made for her.

    Now, I'm having a torn heart over this whole clemency thing for a number of reasons, but here's the utmost one: This girl is a girl who would walk away from this and honor the memory of the dead every day. And, in NC, clemency has a number of interesting meanings. It could mean a conversion of sentence or any number of resolutions. But, what of the victims? That's the big thing for me.

    Just to briefly outline what happened, basically, a very poor choice (no one knows what choice exactly, out of fun, or mean spiritedness) led three girls to set a futon on fire after a night of drinking (Valentine's in fact) at a friends house.

    Two of the girls walked away and JD pled guilty to four counts of first degree murder (no plea deal, no trial, just walked in and did it in the early admin hearings).

    I don't personally agree with every application of the "Felony Murder Law" which allows some accidents and deaths without intentions to be tried as First Degree (and even Capital) cases because of a felony being committed in the course of the death.

    But, what are other people's thoughts on this? I'd be glad to post links to the case at large from MSM sources and some of both sides of the current case for and against clemency.

    Has anyone else ever come up against anything like this personally?
    My posts contain only my opinions. (And a few me and your mom came up with during pillowtalk)

  2. #2
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    I would love to read some articles explaining both sides of the story!

  3. #3
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    MSM and Local Legal Opinions

    Here's a sampling of the local news from our area. I've tried to include a wide mix of opinions and many of these articles have links to previous articles if you'd like to dig in quite deep.



    http://myfox8.com/2012/07/19/firefig...partment-fire/

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...g=3745,1263163

    http://news.google.com/newspapers?ni...pg=5662,881226

    http://www.ncfelonymurder.org/Janet%...hey/janet.html

    http://www.news-record.com/content/2...ll_whole_story

    http://www.news-record.com/content/2...vastating_loss

    Link to petition from supporters and their comments (notable because it has some of the victims families as supporters of clemency)

    https://www.change.org/petitions/the..._term=24169757

    Link to article with actual petition and some of the opposition:

    http://www.news-record.com/content/2..._janet_danahey

  4. #4
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    How tragic for all. From reading the links, it appears to be a prank gone horribly wrong. With the few facts given by msm, I would say she should be given clemency. Things that would change my mind would be if she had a tendency to start fires before or if she has been a problem inmate in jail. Every day, every hour, every minute, people do stupid things. 99.99% of us are fortunate enough that luck, angels, etc, were by our side when we did them. Jmo
    Clear your mind must be, if you are to discover the real villains behind this plot. Opinion only, my posts are.

  5. #5
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    my initial reaction after reading your post was that first-degree murder charges seemed too harsh but after reading a couple links, I think they were appropriate


    I discovered that she was angry at her b/f because they had broken up and that she apparently disposed of fire-related items afterwards

    this tells me that she had malicious intent when she set the fire - that it wasn't just an 'innocent prank gone wrong' (to me, pranks are mischievious but not malicious) and that she had consciousness of guilt after the fire

    that not one of them called 911 is beyond me - the others should've been charged as well ...

    as to whether she deserves clemency, I don't think I have enough information to form an opinion on that right now

    I can see why you're conflicted though ... it's difficult to separate someone we think of as a good person with their bad deeds

  6. #6
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    Thanks for starting this thread, johnfear, I've never heard of this case. Here in NYS she probably would have gotten invol. manslaughter, and been out in 15 yrs.
    I don't think she should be granted clemency; it sounds like she should have gotten the needle. One of the articles posted above states the Llewellen girls were thier parent's only children. I understand she did not intend to cause any real harm to anyone, and would probably be a good citizen if released, but her actions were very reckless, and 4 people burned to death because of it.
    JMO

  7. #7
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    Whatever we do has consequences. We may not like them, but we have to abide by them...

  8. #8
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    On the other hand, maybe this case could be compared to a DWI/homocide. I know arson isn't the same, and there aren't ad campaigns and national organizations dedicated to stopping it, but setting a fire in a bldg you know is occupied, and driving drunk are both reckless actions that any reasonable person should know could kill someone.
    But drunk drivers who kill people don't get LWOP, even if you killed four people and were sentenced consecutivley, you'd probably get 20 years or so.
    I honestly don't know what to think about this case.
    So how's that for a flip-flop? Maybe I should go into politics (call me Mitt!).

  9. #9
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    I don't know about anyone else, but I wouldn't have considered lighting a futon on fire a prank. Maybe knock on their door and run away, or smear their doorknob with dog poo......A prank is supposed to leave the person being pranked looking foolish, and be harmless in the end I thought?

  10. #10
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    Not a prank

    I think the description of the act that started the fire as a prank is incorrect. I also don't necessarily feel like it was arson.

    I do feel like there was alcohol involved and I think the consequences of that behavior are evident. That's one of the things that conflicts me above and beyond the obvious.

    In fact, the alcohol part is precisely what drives me a little nuts and I think the above posts reflecting on driving while intoxicated are right in line with my feelings here.

    Compounding the loss of human life in the direct sense is the indirect sense. On both sides (the victim and the fire-lighter) you have families that are incomplete after the act in a very unnatural way.

    Either way, thanks for weighing in.


  11. #11
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    Charlotte, North Carolina
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    I only know what I learned about this from the links provided so thank you for the links. This is how I feel about it. Moo.

    During her trial all of the information about it being a prank was out there. No one accused her of targeting anyone who died. A jury of our peers did their job and convicted her and she was sentenced.

    10 measly years after taking 4 lives, intentional or not, here we are talking about was it fair.

    She took 4 lives. There are consequences to actions. I don't feel like it would be fair to grant clemency. I feel bad for her, don't get me wrong. It totally sucks to screw up big when you don't usually do that. But we teach our children that there are consequences to every action.

    I think the only way I would be for the Clemency is if she had alerted the authorities and tried to wake the people in the building. She didn't do that. I understand a prank gone wrong. I don't understand letting others die.

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  12. #12
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    There was no trial, she plead guilty at her first opportunity, to get LWOP, as opposed to the death penalty. I'm actually surprised the prosecutors took the death penalty off the table.
    If you google her name there's tons of talk about her on blogs, and in the comments sections of local news sites. The general consensus is that she should stay in prison, except for a few very vocal supporters. Some folks are saying she had a lousy defense; I don't see what any lawyer could have done for her.
    Also in my previos post, I compared this to someone driving drunk and killing someone, and that drunk drivers who kill don't get LWOP. Afterwords, I found this case, also from NC, a woman killed 4 teenagers and was sentenced to 15 years per victim consecutivly, with no possibility of parole. She will be 90 by the time she gets out.

    http://hamptonroads.com/2009/04/deca...-remain-strong



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