Thanks to Joe Neff for his excellent Feb. 19 story “28 years later, a question resurfaces: Who killed Julian Pierce?” Although SBI Director Robert Schurmeirer holds to the official story, that Johnny Goins, acting alone, killed Superior Court candidate Pierce, the state has yet to addresses forensic evidence, events and witness statements that point to the involvement of law enforcement and other individuals in Pierce’s slaying, including accounts that placed Robeson County deputy sheriffs at or near the Pierce murder scene. I detail these findings in the article, “Who Killed Julian Pierce” in MEL magazine, Jan. 18, 2017.
At the time of Pierce’s death, a governor’s task force was investigating widespread allegations of Robeson County’s Sheriff’s Office involvement in the drug trade – as was Pierce, who privately looked into alleged drug corruption as well as a suspected murder charge within the department.
On several occasions, Sheriff Hubert Stone attempted to coerce Pierce to abandon his bid for judge. Yet, the state never questioned Stone or any deputy sheriff about a possible role in Pierce’s death. Nor did they explain why, close to the hour of Pierce’s murder, Robeson sheriff deputies were on patrol across the road from Pierce’s rural home. They also failed to interview witnesses who on the night of Pierce’s killing, said they observed armed men walk up a trail toward Pierce’s residence and shortly afterward, heard the sound of gunfire.
In the years following Sandy Chavis’ 1990 guilty plea to accessory after the fact, Chavis has maintained Robeson law enforcement was in the vicinity of Pierce’s house when he drove there with Johnny Goins. Chavis recently become willing to come forward in the press, as did another man, who said he overheard a deputy sheriff at a convenience store state Pierce was dead, hours before Pierce’s corpse was officially discovered.
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The state must speak to these witnesses, the sheriff deputies who are still living and other subjects identified by the Southern Coalition For Social Justice, and take a fresh look at the murder of Julian Pierce.
Nicole Lucas Haimes
The writer is a documentary producer who has been following the case since 1988. The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the issue.