Former intern: race comments never made

Paul Cummings
Paul Cummings
Jeremy Eicher
Jeremy Eicher

JANUARY 26, 2005 -- Tuesday marked day two of the hearing at the New Hanover County Courthouse for convicted killer Paul Cummings.

His sentence could be overturned if his lawyers can prove race was used to seek the death penalty.

In the courtroom, Cummings wore a New Hanover County inmate jump suit, but was not shackled. He was transferred from Central Prison in Raleigh for the hearing, where he looked relaxed.

This hearing is based around comments supposedly made by a former intern with the district attorney's office. Jeremy Eicher, who is a Duke University Law student, said in testimony Tuesday that he never said prosecutor Ben David used race to choose a sentence for Cummings.

Cummings was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of his 62-year-old neighbor, Jane Truelove Head.

In day one of the hearing, Eicher's classmates and professor testified Eicher said David told him he didn't let Cummings plea bargain for life in prison because he wanted to look fair. He couldn't not seek death for Cummings, who is a Lumbee Indian, but looks white, because he planned to try the death penalty against a black man, Curtis Dixon, the man accused of murdering UNC-Wilmington student Jessica Faulkner.

Eicher was confident on the stand that David never told him race was used in this case.

The hearing will go into day three on Wednesday. David still plans to take the stand, insisting he never used race or politics to seek the death penalty against Cummings.

Reported by Maggie Alexander