Michael Mead is a York County resident. He was accused of shooting Lucy Johnson (his then pregnant fiance') in 2008 and burning her home. Mr. Mead potentially faced the death penalty in this case. The trial spanned two months, and was moved to Charlotte from Gastonia due to pre-trial publicity. After approximately nine hours of deliberation, the Jury returned not guilty verdicts on both the arson and murder charges.
The prosecution's theory of the case was essentially that Mr. Mead wanted Ms. Johnson to have an abortion. As she refused, he became upset and murdered her. The Defense countered with evidence that Mr. Mead's mobile phone was used at his home fifty minutes from the crime scene at the time of the murder. The Defense also pointed to another potential suspect; an ex-boyfriend of Ms. Johnson, with whom she had a difficult relationship.
I did not participate in this trial, and I'm not familiar with the evidence. Thus, I cannot render specific opinions regarding such. However, the Observer article indicates the victim's mother was unhappy with the Gaston County DA's handling of the case. It is also my understanding that the Judge sanctioned the prosecution for discovery violations by awarding the Defense the last argument.
The actions of District Attorneys' offices in North Carolina have been a hot topic in recent months given recent legislative amendments regarding their duties to disclose information to defense counsel. It is interesting that this issue has yet again come up in such a high profile / important case, even as the N.C. legislature has relaxed the Prosecution's ethical duties.