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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

Report: Markelle Fultz was available in trade packages on draft night

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The Philadelphia 76ers are saying all the right things about Markelle Fultz — they are patient, they believe in his work with his new trainer to rebuild his jump shot, and they see him as part of the future. Plus, his handles look sharp.

That doesn’t mean the Sixers are not willing to trade him in their pursuit of a star player. In fact, he was available on draft night in packages, reports Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Sixers say they aren’t shopping him. However, there was a report that they had internal discussions about packing him with Nos. 10 and 26 picks to move up into the Top 5 in Thursday’s draft. And multiple league sources have said that Fultz was available to be traded.

But it’s hard to get equal value in return for trading someone relearning how to shoot. The Sixers know that. They also know that if things do come together, Fultz will be a special player. He has the potential to become the type of player they would regret trading away.

Outside of a handful of superstars, every player in the NBA is available in a trade, at least in theory. Fultz is no different. The question in his case is what do they see as an upgrade vs. his potential?

Kawhi Leonard would be an upgrade, unquestionably. Fultz could be part of a package to land Leonard in a trade (Fultz, Robert Covington, the Miami 2021 first rounder, and probably more picks would be a starting point). Once the Spurs get serious about a potential Leonard trade (they are not there yet) how enticing that offer might be comes down to what they think of Fultz and his potential.

The Sixers are not shy about their desire to land an established All-Star to pair with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. If they don’t get Leonard, they will be looking at the next All-Star who becomes available, and Fultz could be part of those deals, too.

Fultz is not playing in Summer League for the Sixers, but if he comes back this fall trusting his jumper and starting to look like the player who was drafted No. 1 that trade value goes way up (and the Sixers may be less inclined to move him).  It may be then before the Sixers can get a respectable return on any Fultz trade.

Report: Indiana to retain Bojan Bogdanovic, he could start again next season

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Bojan Bogdanovic is the kind of floor spacing shooter the Pacers need next to the attacking Victor Oladipo. He started 80 games for the team, scored 14.3 points per game and shot 40.2 percent from three.

Bogdanovic is due $10.5 million next season, but the Pacers can buy him out before next Friday (June 29) for $1.5 million.

They’re not going to do that, the Pacers are going to retain Bogdanovic, reports Ben Gibson at the Pacers site 8points9seconds.com.

The Indiana Pacers currently plan to retain Bojan Bogdanovic — whose contract is only partially guaranteed for next season — and would be comfortable going into next season with him as a starter, according to a source familiar with the Pacers offseason plans.

There’s no surprise here, it was expected. Bogdanovic provides genuine value to the team — they need him on the court as a shooter, he averaged the second most threes per game on the squad. And, as an expiring contract, he could be used in any potential trades for another star.

The Pacers also have a decision to make on Darren Collison, who is owed $10 million next season but has a $2 million buyout by July 1. They will probably keep him around.

Al Jefferson is owed $10 million next season but can be bought out for $4 million before next January 10. Expect the Pacers to exercise that option and buy him out well before that date.

Carmelo Anthony sends message to haters: ‘Take A Step Back… And Enjoy Life’

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When the expected became official and Carmelo Anthony opted to take the $27.8 million contractually owed him next season, there were groans from the Thunder faithful.

It was Anthony’s right — and everyone knew he was going to take the cash (we all would have done the same) — but his value on the court has shrunk and that’s what eats at the OKC faithful. Anthony’s response on Instagram was, essentially, “relax, it’s just basketball.”

It will be interesting to see if Anthony is back with the Thunder next season, or if he gets bought out. If he does return, how do they better fit him in the offense?

Anthony’s defense has long been a concern, but his offense used to be efficient enough, and his ability to create shots important enough, that teams lived with the defense. However, his efficiency has slid in recent years and, as we saw in the playoffs in April, it’s not enough anymore. The Thunder played better with other lineups. To which Anthony responded he has to get back to his old style of play more.

It’s going to be a wild summer in OKC. Whatever happens.

Suns to sign French point guard Elie Okobo to first-round style contract

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The Suns have an impressive young core four: Devin Booker at the two, Mikal Bridges at the three, Josh Jackson at the four, and Deandre Ayton at center.

The hole: Who will be the point guard?

The Suns like Elie Okobo of France a lot. They drafted him 31st overall, the top pick of the second round, but they will give him a first-round style contract with two guaranteed seasons and two team options after that, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

The Suns hinted they were going to do this, and it’s a smart move at a fair price if they can develop Okobo (even as a backup).

Okobo has potential. Last season, at the highest level of the athletic French league he averaged 13.2 points on 57 percent shooting (38 percent from three) plus 4.4 assists per game. Okobo is an NBA level athlete who has all the tools to be a good NBA point guard — and he already knows how to score (he had 44 points in a playoff game this season). He’s going to have to round out his game and adapt to the NBA style, but the Suns think they have something.

And they are betting they have with a nice sized contract.