First Posted: 1/15/2009
LUMBERTON - Defense lawyers on Monday will begin making the case that a man who has spent more than 13 years on death row should get a new trial for the murders of two Rowland men almost two decades ago.
Daniel Gardner, 41, pled guilty in 1993 to killing 23-year-old Timothy Oxendine and 26-year-old Roger Strickland during a robbery at the Rowland Motel on Halloween night of 1988. Both men worked at the motel.
Gardner pled guilty during jury selection, before the trial started. A Robeson County jury sentenced Gardner to death in September 1993.
His appeals lawyers, Thomas Loflin and Kevin Bradley, have filed the motion for a new trial on the basis that Gardner received bad advice from his attorneys when he was first tried. Lawyers John Campbell and Wade Byrd represented Gardner at the 1993 trial.
“We feel strongly that he did not receive proper advice by his court-appointed counsel when he entered that plea,” Loflin said. “After he entered the plea, he got bad representation on the mitigation portion of the capital sentencing of the trial.”
Loflin said the defense plans a lengthy presentation of evidence with as many as a dozen witnesses, including at least one mental health expert and several people from Michigan, where Gardner lived before moving to Fayetteville.
“We're attacking the pleas and we're attacking the representation at the sentencing portion of the trial,” Loflin said.
Gardner was a sergeant in the U.S. Army at the time of the murders. Dana Denise Adams, who is also 41, took a plea bargain and was convicted of accessory after the fact to first-degree murder. She served about two years of a seven-year prison sentence and three years on parole. Adams was a stripper who worked at several nightclubs in Fayetteville when the murders occurred.
Superior Court Judge Frank Floyd will hear evidence at the hearing, and lawyers with the state Attorney General's Office will represent the state.
Oxendine and Strickland were shot to death with a .25-caliber handgun at the Rowland Motel on Oct. 31, 1988. Strickland's throat also had been slashed.
Authorities, after learning about $800 cash was missing, determined that robbery was the motive. Gardner and Adams also were convicted of killing a convenience store clerk in Fayetteville in Oct. 28, 1988, three days before the Rowland murders, and Gardner was convicted of the shooting of a Fayetteville taxi driver in November 1988. Adams took a plea bargain for the Fayetteville killing, as well.
It was after those convictions that they became suspects in the Rowland murders. Garner was already serving a life sentence plus 25 years for the convenience store shooting and 60-year sentence for shooting the cab driver during a robbery.