Danny Robbie Hembree Jr. wrote a letter to The Gazette in which he challenged Gaston County residents to put him to death.
The 50-year-old Gaston County man is on death row at Central Prison
in Raleigh for suffocating 17-year-old Heather Catterton in 2009.
In a letter received Monday, Hembree asked that the newspaper publish
an editorial that he wrote. In the two-page document, Hembree says that
the warped judicial system will ensure that he lives for decades even
though he’s been sentenced to death.
The appellate process will keep Hembree alive and well for at least 20 years, he wrote in black ink on the lined notebook paper.
“Is the public aware that the chances of my lawful murder taking
place in the next 20 years if ever are very slim?” Hembree asked. “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 meals a
Hembree, who was sentenced to death Nov. 18 by a Gaston County jury,
is accused of killing two other women, Randi Dean Saldana and Deborah
Ratchford.Hembree confessed to killing the three women during police
interrogation. The recorded interviews were shown to the jury in his
first trial. Hembree later testified that the confessions were a ploy to
deflect attention for a string of armed robberies he executed in
Hembree admitted to doing drugs and having sex with Catterton and
Saldana the day they died, but he told the jury he was not the one who
killed them and dumped their bodies in York County, S.C.
The jury did not take Hembree’s word for it and sentenced him to death.
He is slated to go on trial in March for Saldana’s killing.
On Jan. 13, Superior Court Judge Beverly Beal granted a motion by the
defense for a change of venue. The trial won’t be moved, but jurors
will be bussed in from another county.
Hembree referenced the two pending murder charges in the letters he
mailed to The Gazette. Along with the suggested editorial, Hembree sent a
copy of a three-page letter that he said he intends to send to the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
In the NAACP letter, Hembree tells of his conviction and pending
murder charges. Hembree suggests that the NAACP get involved because the
cases of the two white women are being tried first.
Catterton and Saldana were each killed in 2009. Ratchford’s body was found in a Gastonia cemetery in 1992.
In his letter, Hembree says that Gaston County District Attorney
Locke Bell has no intention of taking the Ratchford case to court.
Hembree suggests in his letter that Bell’s intent is racially motivated.
“I implore your great organization to pressure Mr. Bell until he
gives Debora Ratchford her day in court in the interest of justice,” he
A trial date in Ratchford’s killing has not yet been set.
Bell could not be immediately reached for comment.
Hembree writes of injustice in his letter written to The Gazette. He
takes a taunting tone when telling people in the county to take action:
“I am a man who is ready to except his unjust punishment and face God
almighty with a clear conscience unlike you cowards and your cowardly
system. Kill me if you can, suckers. Ha! Ha! Ha!”
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