todd_williams_2015This week’s high-profile homicide case in Buncombe County will be the first big test of the county’s newly minted district attorney.

Buncombe County deputies on Tuesday arrested Robert Jason Owens and charged him with first-degree murder in the deaths of 38-year-old Cristie Codd and her husband, 45-year-old J.T. Codd of Hookers Gap Road. Deputies also charged Owens with the murder of an unborn child. Cristie Codd was reportedly five-months pregnant.

Codd was a contestant on an episode of a Food Network reality TV show, and her death has captured national media attention.

Owens was also a person of interest in an infamous, 15-year-old missing person’s case in Buncombe County.

Todd Williams, a local defense attorney, beat 24-year incumbent District Attorney Ron Moore in last year’s Democratic primary. Williams went on to win the DA’s seat in the November general election.

During the election, Moore touted his record as a tough prosecutor and criticized Williams for his lack of courtroom experience in big death penalty cases. Williams countered by criticizing Moore for serious prosecutorial mistakes that led to the wrongful conviction of two men. Williams also promised to bring integrity and fairness to the DA’s office.

Williams has not yet said whether he will seek the death penalty in the developing case against Owens. Because Owens faces murder charges in the death of the Codd’s, as well as the death of an unborn child, it’s likely that he would seek the death penalty here. It’s his first chance to establish himself as a tough prosecutor.

Williams could also use the death penalty case as leverage in dealing with Owens. If Owens really does have any information in the old Quinn case, Williams could conceivably negotiate – life in prison for information leading to a resolution of the perplexing cold case?

Williams and Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan have moved methodically through this investigation, offering the media few details as they investigate. Both are highly aware of importance of this case.

Image link for Todd Williams. Photo by Eric Howard, from Williams for DA page on Facebook.

24 Comments

  1. Someone just introduced a Death Penalty Moratorium bill in the NC Senate.

    bit.ly/1IggOHg (drag & drop)

    • “Someone just introduced a Death Penalty Moratorium bill in the NC Senate”

      It was just a Democrat.

      A ‘de facto’ moratorium was just lifted in the last session. So…good luck with that.

  2. It’s a pity that this happened right out the gate. He doesn’t have enough proven record or clout to take controversial moves, such as not seeking the death penalty on a case where a pretty blonde gets murdered. But maybe he won’t.

    Apparently, in Norway, they have no death penalty and the maximum prison sentence is 21 years. Their prisons are much cleaner, safer and more human, and guarantee reintegration of all released inmates by providing a home and a job. Obviously it’s much more expensive, but their incarceration rates are so low that they can afford it. If America had a similar system, theoretically it would save $45 billion a year. That’s some food for thought. (This is all in a current NYT article, I tried to provide the link but for some reason my comment won’t post if I do.)

    • You cannot compare Norway to the US. They are a tiny country with a mostly homogenous population which receives huge subsidies as part of a greater Scandinavian social welfare state.

      We on the other hand are a huge nation with far greater racial, ethnic and religious diversity, with all of the conflict that this brings, and any similar social welfare compacts with our neighbors would only benefit them, Canada being tiny and Mexico impoverished.

      And Norway (and Scandinavia in general) is already beginning to see negative socioeconomic changes with increasing influx of immigrants, a reactionary right-wing political response, and declining North Sea oil revenues, which is their #1 cash cow. Gun violence was unheard of, but they have already had their first mass shooting event. I don’t expect to see them bring back the death penalty, but I do expect to see longer, harsher prison terms in the near future.

      • Having said all of that, I do agree that on a purely economic scale, the death penalty makes little sense. The only use I have for it is as a bargaining tool to encourage a guilty plea or to elicit information in exchange for a lesser sentence.

      • Big Al – You have totally nailed it. I’ve been to 3 Scandinavian countries, conversed with locals and have known a couple of Swedes living in the USA.

        My conclusion? They are lovely countries with decent people….but you utterly cannot compare their societies to the USA. They ARE very homogenous with similar value systems. We are completely unlike that.

      • I agree that Norway and the US are apples and oranges.

        None the less, I think we could learn some things from their approach.

  3. It’s a pity that this happened right out the gate. He doesn’t have enough proven record or clout to take controversial moves, such as not seeking the death penalty on a case where a pretty blonde gets murdered. But maybe he won’t.

    Apparently, in Norway, they have no death penalty and the maximum prison sentence is 21 years. Their prisons are much cleaner, safer and more human, and guarantee reintegration of all released inmates by providing a home and a job. Obviously it’s much more expensive, but their incarceration rates are so low that they can afford it. If America had a similar system, theoretically it would save $45 billion a year. That’s some food for thought.

    NYT article: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/29/magazine/the-radical-humaneness-of-norways-halden-prison.html

    • “Many people believe that the death penalty is more cost-effective than housing and feeding someone in prison for life. In reality, the death penalty’s complexity, length, and finality drive costs through the roof, making it much more expensive. Capital punishment is an inefficient, bloated program that has bogged down law enforcement, delayed justice for victims’ families, and devoured millions of crime-fighting resources that could save lives and protect the public.”

      Conservatives Concerned About The Death Penalty
      bit.ly/1mcN30R (drag & drop)

  4. Yeah, only wacky progressives are against the death penalty.

    Congressman Ron Paul: “I believe that support for the death penalty is inconsistent with libertarianism and traditional conservatism.”

    Senator Rand Paul: “Even in the United States where we have the best due process probably in the world, we have probably executed people wrongfully for the death penalty, then found out through DNA testing many people on death row are there inaccurately. And even Republicans have pulled back their beliefs some on death penalty.”

    Larry Klayman, Founder, Judicial Watch: “How is it that conservatives generally believe in ‘life,’ but are very willing to allow a corrupt and hugely flawed court system to condemn someone to death?”

    Richard Viguerie, Chairman of ConservativeHQ.com: “Conservatives have every reason to believe the death penalty system is no different from any politicized, costly, inefficient, bureaucratic, government-run operation, which we conservatives know are rife with injustice. But here the end result is the end of someone’s life. In other words, it’s a government system that kills people.”

    Jack Kemp, former Republican Congressman and Vice Presidential Candidate: “I have come to think that capital punishment should be abolished.”

    Tucker Carlson, The Daily Caller: “I’m uncomfortable with the death penalty under any circumstances.”

    Colonel Oliver North: “I have always felt… and always said that there are very serious questions about the justice of the death penalty.”

    Kathryn Jean Lopez, Former Editor, The National Review: “I’m opposed to the death penalty.”

    Not to mention that wacky liberal group, the Catholic Church: “Citing his previous messages against the death penalty, the Pope called capital punishment “cruel, inhumane and degrading” and said it “does not bring justice to the victims, but only foments revenge.””

    • Sorry hack. There are times when it’s called for. Eye for an eye.

      • Sorry insulting anonymous person, but the point that many of those conservative voices agree about is that getting your vengeance on for those “times” unfortunately opens the door for innocent people to be put to death, too.

        Even if you believe that the truly despicable murderers be put to death (and if the charges against this guy are true, they seem to make him a strong candidate), you can’t have a death penalty that only applies to them.

        I’m against the death penalty for more than that reason, but as Rand Paul and others up there say, the very real possibility of the State killing innocent people is something that everyone should agree takes it off the table.

        Or would you consider them to be acceptable “collateral damage” in your lust for vengeance?

        • In the case of irrefutable DNA evidence or confession, kill ’em nice and slow. Ever had a love one tortured and murdered, hack? I have! And I don’t give a rat’s a$$ what Rand or Ron Paul think about the issue.

          • And as we all know, confessions are never coerced, DNA evidence is never mishandled, and prosecutors who depend on their conviction rate to get re-elected never fudge on the details…

            The system can’t be trusted to ‘only’ kill the really bad ones. That means the system has to go.

            But that’s great news, insulting anonymous person, that you side with our good friends, Saudi Arabia, China, Iraq and Iran, in the dwindling 18% of countries on this planet that think that vengeance is theirs and not God’s.

            Oh, and don’t forget ISIS – they love them some death penalty, too. Over the past year, three more countries have completely abolished the death penalty.

            I feel for anyone who’s lost someone to murder. But more killing won’t bring them back.

          • You don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. There’s a solid system of appeals in place, a system that is maddening for victims’ families. Fortunately, I got to watch the execution of my sister’s murderer. Very satisfying to watch the animal take his last breath.

        • The fact that you would compare our judicial system with ISIS just shows what a despicable douchebag you are Summers.

          • I’m sorry that you were scarred by that kind of loss. But calling me names won’t change the fact that the majority of civilized peoples in this world have rejected capital punishment. It’s principally the fanatic and despotic regimes that continue the practice, or in the case of ISIS, use it as brutal propaganda.

            Hopefully we’ll choose to follow the rest of the civilized world before too much longer.

      • “An eye for and eye” is a much-misunderstood Old Testament homily.

        It does NOT mean or imply that having your own eye taken entitles you to take another’s eye in revenge.

        It DOES mean that if you take another’s eye, you does so in the understanding that you must willingly give up your own eye in exchange, as “Vengeance is MINE, SAYETH THE LORD”.

        I am in agreement with Swimmer in Charles Frazier’s “Thirteen Moons” who, when given a Bible to read, told the missionary “This is good. When Christians start to act like this, I will join them,”

    • And today’s logical fallacy is…
      https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/tu-quoque

  5. Unaffiliated Voter says:

    if Todd Wms does NOT seek the death penalty in this case, then all of AVL will see that a BIG MISTAKE was made in his election, and he will be shamed.

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