Here is a front page story in the “Local and State” section of the Charlotte Observer from Wednesday, August 22, 2012. Thank God that no matter how good or how bad a story is, it keeps the cause of Christ and His precious preborn children on the front burner in the minds of the citizens in Charlotte. Through your presence here during our National Event in July, and your prayers since that time, the airwaves in Charlotte and local media outlets have been filled with the exploits of God’s Church storming the gates of hell. This is just one more story.
Please note that in the story you will find that our attorney’s fought hard to prevent a “wanted” poster, covered with swastikas, a George Tiller Picture on it, and the number 30,000,000 in the middle, from being entered into evidence. It was a poster that none of us had ever seen before and never would have used. We did not know if it was ever used in Wichita. We did not know if any pro-life group or pro-choice group drew it up. We knew absolutely nothing about it. Yet Judge Turner allowed it in as evidence anyway. Why?
Why would a judge allow something like this into evidence? Because he knew very well that the poster we did distribute, “Wanted by Christ to Stop Killing Babies!” would never be construed as a “threat” to anyone. The prosecution knew this too. Unbelievably, the three Appeals Court Judges wrote, “The ‘wanted poster’ (Tiller’s) was relevant and its probative value outweighed any prejudicial effect.” Sure its probative. It prejudices everything else.
Of course it’s “probative value” (probative means to prove) was going to get them a conviction. It totally prejudiced the jury against us. Without this shocking “wanted” poster, the state’s case would have been shown for what it really was. Another failed attempt to remove the Gospel of Christ from the highways and byways of our city.
Here’s the story via the Charlotte Observer:
Anti-abortion minister to get new trial on charges he stalked doctor
On appeal, conviction of anti-abortion leader in 2011 negated on technicality
By Gary L. Wright
Posted: Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012
The Rev. Phillip “Flip” Benham, an anti-abortion activist convicted in 2011 of stalking a Charlotte doctor, has been granted a new trial.
The N.C. Court of Appeals on Tuesday ordered the new trial after ruling that the judge in Benham’s trial made a mistake in instructing jurors before they began deliberations.
Benham, director of the Concord-based Operation Save America, was convicted in July 2011 of stalking a Charlotte doctor by distributing “posters with abortion doctors’ names and photos. He was accused of passing out hundreds of posters that said: “Wanted…by Christ, to Stop Killing Babies.”
He was placed on probation for 18 months and ordered to stay clear of Dr. ______’s home neighborhood and remain 500 feet from the three clinics where the doctor works.
Superior Court Judge Joseph Turner had instructed jurors that to find Benham guilty of stalking, the prosecution had to prove that the anti-abortion activist placed Dr. ______ in fear for his safety and the safety of his family.
Benham, in appealing his conviction, argued that the warrant charging him with stalking made no mention of ______’s family. The warrant only alleged that Benham had placed ______ in fear.
“The jury was instructed to find defendant guilty on a theory not included in the warrant,” the appeals court judges wrote in ordering the new trial. “The defendant was unable to prepare for trial on the theory that Dr. ______ was placed in fear for his family.”
But Benham said he’s not happy with the appeals court’s ruling. It has given him a new trial, he said, but has taken away his freedom of speech.
“What I do isn’t stalking,” Benham told the Observer Tuesday. “I’m exercising my First Amendment rights as a Christian to expose what is evil. This stalking law is devastatingly dangerous to free speech.
“They’ve gutted the First Amendment. We go all around the country and do this. We go to the abortionists’ homes, their practices and the abortion mills … . They want to censure the Gospel’s message. They want to get us off the streets. They want to silence our message.”
Benham, in appealing his stalking conviction, had also accused the judge of making a mistake when he allowed the prosecution to introduce evidence about a case that involved a “wanted” poster for a doctor who performed abortions in Wichita, Kan. That doctor, George Tiller, was shot to death in his church by an anti-abortion activist in 2009.
Benham argued that the evidence about Tiller was irrelevant and unduly inflammatory.
The appeals court judges disagreed. The “wanted” poster was relevant, they ruled, and its probative value outweighed any prejudicial effect.
Several doctors have been killed after similar fliers were distributed in other cities. In 1993, Dr. George Patterson was killed in Mobile, Ala., and Dr. David Gunn was killed in Pensacola, Fla. His replacement, Dr. John Britton, was gunned down a year later.
“Dr. ______ was concerned because other doctors had been murdered after similar WANTED posters were distributed prior to their deaths,” the appeals court ruling said. “The State’s purpose for introducing the Tiller poster was to show that Dr. ______’s fear regarding the WANTED poster bearing his photograph, name and information was reasonable.
“______ was a doctor who performed abortions … It was relevant for the jury to learn that the wanted posters in the past resulted in violence.”
Staff researcher Maria David contributed
Wright: 704 358-5052