When a reporter from North Carolina’s WRAL-TV sat down with Daniel Green in 1998, five years had passed since authorities had found the body of basketball superstar Michael Jordan’s father, and three years had passed since Green and another man were convicted of the crime. In that interview, Green flatly stated that he did not kill James Jordan: “I did not kill Mr. Jordan, no sir,” he said. “I did not kill him; that’s cut and dry.”
Green is now officially challenging the forensic evidence that helped put him behind bars so many years ago. His is one of the 190 cases identified in a 2010 audit of the State Bureau of Investigation that turned on omitted, overstated or falsely reported information from SBI agents. (We wrote about the audit as well as the investigation leading up to it in a number of posts that year.)
The forensic evidence that linked Green to the crime was a small amount of blood discovered in the victim’s car. Testimony from two people — the SBI analyst, who discussed the blood evidence, and Green’s co-defendant, who identified Green as the killer — convinced the jury to convict the then-21-year-old of first-degree murder, first-degree armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
The audit showed that the SBI routinely omitted test results that were unfavorable to the prosecution. For a time, in fact, it was the stated policy of the agency to do so. In some cases, analysts reported the results of initial tests that were inconclusive instead of the results of more sophisticated tests that could have cleared the defendant. There were also instances of SBI crime lab reports not being turned over to defense attorneys as required by law.
Green’s attorneys have asked the government to turn over its records of SBI lab policies and procedures relating to blood tests from the time of their client’s prosecution. They have also requested to see depositions of key SBI personnel, including the analyst who testified, and one of the auditors.
The investigation could take months to complete. Green is serving a life sentence; the jury declined to impose the death penalty.
WRAL-TV, “Killer of Michael Jordan’s father challenges blood evidence in trial,” July 17, 2013
WRAL-TV, “Man Convicted of Killing Jordan’s Father Breaks His Silence,” Aug. 4, 1998
WRAL-TV, “Green Sentenced to Life in Prison for James Jordan Murder,” March 11, 1996