According to court documents James Little would rob a taxi driver Bira Gueye and in the process would fatally shoot him
James Little would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
James Little Photos
James Little Now
|Probation/Parole/Post Release Status:||INACTIVE|
|Ethnic Group:||NOT HISPANIC/LATINO|
|Current Location:||CENTRAL PRISON|
James Little Case
James Ray Little yesterday became the first person sentenced to death this year in North Carolina.
Judge Stuart Albright sentenced him in Forsyth Superior Court after a unanimous jury decided on the death penalty for Little, 22.
Little robbed and shot Bira Gueye, 47, on Oct. 5, 2006.
After four hours of deliberating, jurors agreed with Little’s attorneys that he had limited intelligence and a poor upbringing, and had not set out early that morning to kill.
They agreed that the plan to rob a cab driver came from two men who were with Little that night.
But all that, jurors decided, was outweighed by three things: Little had a past conviction for a violent felony, he killed for financial gain, and his crime was part of a string of violence that night.
As Albright read “death,” the jury’s binding recommendation, Little’s mother, Susan Bulger, cried out softly from the fifth row of the audience.
“Oh, my God!” she said. “No! No!”
Bulger began rocking back and forth on the bench, crying. She clasped her hands together, covering her eyes.
After the verdict, an ambulance took her to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center because she told deputies she was having trouble breathing.
After the verdict, Roslyn Ingram, the mother of Little’s 3-year-old daughter, Jamera, said she felt sorry for Gueye’s family.
“I think it’s sad, and I hate that it had to end that way,” Ingram said.
She said she will keep taking Jamera to visit her father as he awaits death, which is likely years away because of post-conviction appeals.
Family and friends who knew Gueye from his job at Willard Cab Co. said they were thankful.
Little’s confession to police and testimony from witnesses showed that Little shot Gueye once in the back, then shot him again after Gueye had given him money.
“He could have run away,” said Amadou Niane, Gueye’s cousin.
Niane said that the death penalty is appropriate — Little killed and clearly meant to, carrying a gun as he robbed people, he said.
“He knows it’s got bullets in it,” he said.
Before robbing Gueye, Little robbed two men in Greenway Park. He pistol-whipped them because they looked scared, he told police.
He had set out that night to get some marijuana, testimony showed. Little used one of the robbery victim’s cell phones to call a cab.
In the death-penalty phase of the trial, prosecutors Jim O’Neill and Jennifer Martin showed that Little has past convictions for larceny from a person, felony larceny and motor-vehicle theft.
When Little was 18, he knocked down a 9-year-old boy and took his lunch money. He pleaded guilty to larceny from a person.
He had discipline problems at the Forsyth County Jail while awaiting trial and tried to fight a courtroom deputy after his conviction Monday on the murder charge.
Little’s attorneys, Chris Beechler and Clark Fischer, had proposed 21 factors that they had hoped would lead jurors to choose life in prison.
“We had hoped that when you look at all of those things and you look at his age, even balanced against his crimes, it would have gone the other way,” Fischer said. “I always respect a jury’s verdict, even if I disagree with it.”
Little was a month shy of his 20th birthday when he killed Gueye.
Little will be the 163rd person on the state’s death row and the youngest on death row, although others prisoners were younger than him when they killed.
North Carolina has not executed anyone in two years because of court disputes over the death penalty. The N.C. Supreme Court heard arguments this week to resolve one of the disputes, over what role doctors can have in executions. It’s not clear when the court will rule on that case.
Forsyth County has more inmates on death row than any other county — Little is the 13th. Wake County has the second-most people awaiting death, with 11; Cumberland and Buncombe counties both have nine.
Fischer said that it’s hard to know in which cases juries will recommend the death penalty.
Three years ago, Fischer defended Randy Ridgeway, a Davie County man who used a hammer to kill his girlfriend’s 14-year-old daughter. Ridgeway raped and sodomized the girl, either as she was dying or after she died. Jurors decided on life in prison.
“This does not seem as deserving as some other cases I’ve had,” Fischer said.
“It’s just sometimes hard to figure.