06/02/05 — Lane wants his lawyers back on case

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Lane wants his lawyers back on case

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on June 2, 2005 1:46 PM

Eric Glenn Lane, accused of murdering a 5-year-old girl, now wants his standby lawyers to represent him in his death-penalty case.

It was the latest in a series of twists in the first-degree murder trial in Wayne County Superior Court.

Lane, the 33-year-old electrician who had been representing himself in his new trial, asked for lawyers Glenn Barfield of Goldsboro and Richard McNeil of Jacksonville to take over the case as long as they keep the trial moving.

Jury selection was to have started again Wednesday if Lane had represented himself. After Lane's latest request, Judge Gary Trawick of Burgaw delayed the process until Monday. He had ordered 200 jurors to be summoned for Monday and 200 more for Wednesday.

Lane tried to fire his court-appointed lawyers before his original trial last October but then changed his mind and kept McNeil and Edwin L. West III of Wilmington.

When the trial was stopped Nov. 9, 2004, because of juror misconduct, Lane renewed his request to fire his lawyers.

Lane was examined by state mental-health experts who determined he was competent to defend himself, although he is an eighth-grade dropout with limited reading and writing skills.

Lane is accused of killing Precious Ebony Whitfield, who was visiting family friends on Brandywine Drive, a few doors from the defendant's home, in the Patetown community.

Lane is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree rape, first-degree sexual offense, indecent liberties with a child and a lewd and lascivious act. If he is convicted of first-degree murder, the same jury would determine his punishment -- the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

Jury selection for the second part of the trial was stopped Tuesday, after 12 people had been seated, on a legal technicality. Courtroom clerks had furnished the state and the defense random lists of the three panels of jurors in violation of state statutes, officials said. Judge Trawick said in his order that the clerks were doing so to help both sides and had made an inadvertent mistake.

In retrospect, District Attorney Branny Vickory said Wednesday he did not think Trawick had the random lists.