11/03/11 — Lane will file appeal

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Lane will file appeal

By Gary Popp
Published in News on November 3, 2011 1:46 PM

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Eric Glenn Lane

Eric Glenn Lane, convicted in 2005 of murdering 5-year-old Precious Whitfield, has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal of his conviction in Wayne County Superior Court.

Lane, now 40, was sentenced to death in 2005 after being found guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree child rape, first-degree sexual offense, first-degree kidnapping and indecent liberties with a child.

Officials with the North Carolina Department of Justice said it typically takes the high court several months to decide whether it will hear a case.

Lane's defense is asking the Supreme Court to determine "whether the N.C. Supreme Court erred in affirming the trial court's order allowing petitioner to represent himself pretrial."

Lane's case was reviewed by the North Carolina Supreme Court, which filed remarks in March 2011 that Lane had received a fair trial in Wayne County and that the death sentence recommended by the jury was not excessive or disproportionate.

During the state's Supreme Court review, Lane's defense presented the argument that the Wayne County court erred by granting his motion to release court-appointed attorneys and to represent himself.

Lane proceeded without representation, from Nov. 23, 2004, to June 1, 2005. Jury selection in Lane's trial started five days after Lane decided to be represented by a lawyer during the trial.

Precious, who lived several doors down from Lane on Brandywine Drive, went missing on May 17, 2002. Two days later, her remains were found inside a trash bag by people fishing in Nahunta Creek near the Airport Road bridge.

It was later determined that the child had played with a neighborhood boy on Lane's backyard swing set earlier on the day of her death and that both children had gone inside Lane's home to view his aquarium. The boy then left, but Precious went back to Lane's home at about 6:30 p.m.

Precious was not reported missing until the next morning.

The first time Lane went on trial the case ended in a mistrial because of juror misconduct. A prospective juror had commented in the jury pool room about what punishment Lane should receive. The last two seated jurors and a prospective alternate admitted that they had heard portions of the comments. The juror was found in contempt of court and fined $500.

The second trial ended with Lane being found guilty of murder. The same jury that found him guilty also sentenced him to death. The panel of 10 women and two men took less than an hour to decide on his punishment.