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Attorneys say evidence tampering in murder of Michael Jordan’s father

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Attorneys for a man serving life in prison for the murder of Michael Jordan’s father are asking for a new trial, saying someone tampered with the dead man’s shirt after his autopsy.

The autopsy found no hole in James Jordan’s shirt that corresponded with the bullet wound in his upper right chest area, but an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation later contradicted that on the witness stand, according to the lawyers’ filing in North Carolina’s Robeson County Superior Court.

“This newly discovered evidence of tampering adds to the growing list of legal concerns and factual evidence which add weight to the conclusion that not only does Daniel Green deserve a new trial but that he is innocent of the murder of James Jordan,” said Chris Mumma, executive director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, which recently joined Green’s defense.

The state attorney general’s office is reviewing Wednesday’s filing , a spokeswoman said Thursday.

The basketball great’s father was killed on July 23, 1993, in North Carolina. His body was found in a South Carolina swamp.

Green and Larry Demery were convicted after Demery testified at their trial in 1996 that Green shot Jordan as he slept in his luxury car in Robeson County. Green has long claimed his innocence, telling WRAL-TV in 1998 that he was wrongly convicted of pulling the trigger. Attorneys have filed previous motions over the years for a new trial.

Green admitted in the interview that he drove James Jordan’s Lexus and wore his watch as well as an NBA championship ring he was given by his son. He also admitted he helped dump Jordan’s body in the South Carolina swamp.

Michael Jordan, now the owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, is one of the greatest professional basketball players of all time. He led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships, and in 1982, his game-winning shot led the North Carolina Tar Heels to the NCAA championship over Georgetown.

He and his father were close, evidenced in the photo of the two hugging after the Bulls won the 1992 championship.

In Green’s 1998 interview, he said he wrote a letter to Jordan’s family to explain his version of what happened and apologize.

This week’s court filing says the absence of a hole in the right chest area contradicts the prosecutors’ theory that Jordan was lying in his car when he was shot. “It also gave strength to the defense theory that there was an altercation between Demery and Mr. Jordan, which was kept from the jury,” the court filing says.

The filing describes an unusual chain of custody for the shirt. It says Dr. Joel Sexton of Newberry, South Carolina, who performed the autopsy, gave it to a law enforcement officer who gave it to a civilian employee of a company that provided services for funeral homes. That employee gave the shirt to his boss, who said he buried it in his backyard because of the smell.

When law enforcement later determined that the shirt was evidence, the SBI worked with South Carolina law enforcement officials to exhume the shirt and transport it to Raleigh. And it was then that an SBI agent reported the presence of a bullet hole in the upper right chest area of the shirt, the filing says.

Sexton had written in the autopsy report that he looked for and didn’t find a corresponding hole in the right chest area of the shirt that corresponded with James Jordan’s fatal wound. Instead, he found three holes near the shirt tail, he wrote. Those holes would line up with the fatal wound if the shirt were pulled up about one foot, he wrote – “as one might do if pulling a gun from their waist,” the court filing adds.

SBI Agent R.N. Mars testified that the hole he found in the shirt “marked the location where the single, fatal bullet transversed the victim’s clothing and entered his body,” the filing says. “But Agent Mars offered no explanation for the three holes in the lower section of Mr. Jordan’s shirt that Dr. Sexton’s autopsy suggested were caused by the bullet. The district attorney, who had once highlighted Dr. Sexton’s notes about the absence of a bullet hole in the chest area of the shirt, did not ask about the three holes in the lower section of the shirt, and – critically for Mr. Green – neither did his defense attorneys.”

Follow Martha Waggoner on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc

Thunder pick up Paul George in his return to Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Paul George made a winning return to Indiana, hitting the clinching free throws with 10.7 seconds left in the Oklahoma City Thunder’s 100-95 victory over the Pacers on Wednesday night.

Steven Adams had 23 points and 13 rebounds and Russell Westbrook finished with 10 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists in his ninth triple-double this season. The Thunder have won two straight on the road.

Victor Oladipo led the Pacers with 19 points and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 15. Indiana had a chance to tie the score after getting the ball back with 15.2 seconds left, but George got a steal then hit a couple free throws.

The Pacers’ winning streak ended at four.

But the highly anticipated matchup between George and Oladipo, the key components in last summer’s blockbuster trade, didn’t go as expected.

George was booed loudly during introductions and every time he touched the ball. Fans only cheered for George when he was called for a foul or made a mistake and it seemed to take a toll on the four-time All-Star. He finished 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting, had two rebounds and four turnovers.

Oladipo, the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week, didn’t have a typical night either. He was 9 of 26 with five rebounds and six assists.

The result: Both teams struggled.

Indiana led 27-22 after one but gave the lead right back by allowing Oklahoma City to start the second quarter on a 9-0 spurt.

After the Pacers answered with a 9-0 run, the Thunder closed the half on a 9-3 spurt to make it 51-46.

The trend continued in the second half.

Indiana charged back to take a 63-59 lead before the Thunder used an 11-2 run to pull out to a 73-69 lead going into the fourth.

Oklahoma City extended the lead to 92-81 with 5:16 to go but only scored six points the rest of the way. That was just enough to hold on.

TIP-INS

Thunder: Oklahoma City is 4-10 on the road. … Oklahoma City got its first series split with the Pacers since 2012-13. … Oklahoma City had 17 offensive rebounds and was 13 of 29 on 3-pointers.

Pacers: Thaddeus Young had 11 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals. … Made 11 3s but fell to 14-3 when making 10 or more 3-pointers in a game this season. … Center Myles Turner had three blocks, his 12th game this season with three or more. … Former Colts coach Tony Dungy attended the game. He’s in town for Thursday night’s NFL game between the Colts and Broncos.

ALL-STAR DAY

The Pacers got a win before they even took the floor.

A little less than three hours before tip, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Indiana would host the 2021 All-Star Game. It will be the first time the Pacers have hosted the marquee event since 1985.

The move comes seven months after Larry Bird hand-delivered the formal proposal at the league’s New York headquarters in an IndyCar.

UP NEXT

Thunder: Faces Philadelphia on Friday, trying to improve to 17-1 in the series since moving to Oklahoma City.

Pacers: Host Detroit on Friday, seeking a seventh straight home win in the series.

 

Rockets’ Clint Capela on Warriors: ‘I expect to beat them’

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During the 2014-15 season, Rockets star James Harden said the Warriors “ain’t even that good.”

Golden State went on to reach the last three NBA Finals, twice beating Houston in the playoffs, and win two championships.

The Rockets have since re-tooled around Harden, Chris Paul and several quality role players and are in first place. Houston looks like the biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference.

Rockets center Clint Capela on the Warriors, via Dave Schilling of Bleacher Report:

“I expect to beat them,” Capela says.

That’s a fine sentiment. Saying it publicly is another matter. Not even Harden did that a couple years ago. He was recorded during a pregame team huddle.

There’s a fine line between self-fulfilling confidence and providing bulletin-board material to the opponent. There’s already some animosity between the teams stemming from the Stephen Curry-Harden MVP race in 2015, and it has bubbled since. No matter how harmless Capela’s remark might have been intended to be, it’ll be met contentiously in the Bay Area.

PBT Extra Player of the Week: Victor Oladipo

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Oklahoma City traded for Victor Oladipo out of Orlando to be their third scorer, behind Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. It didn’t exactly work out that way, Durant bolted town and when Westbrook went off Oladipo was looking for a place to fit in.

That place turned out to be the Pacers.

Oladipo has been playing like an All-Star this season with Indiana, and last week he was key in snapping Cleveland’s 13 game win streak, then turned around and dropped 47 points on Denver. For the week he averaged 35.7 points a game, shot 45.7 percent from three, plus grabbed 7.7 rebounds per game.

That will get you named the PBT Extra Player of the Week.

Watch Pacers fan boo Paul George during introductions (video)

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Paul George – who told the Pacers he’d leave in free agency, prompting them to trade him to the Thunder – expected boos in his return to Indiana.

Pacers fans delivered.

They’ve also booed him every time he has touched the ball, which will certainly persist.