Episode 9: “Who is Larry Demery?”
One of the most important people in this case is Larry Demery, yet, the person we know the least about is Larry Demery.
For the most part, Larry’s family and friends refused to speak to the media, as did he. In fact, when a reporter and photographer from WRAL made the long drive down a dirt road to Demery’s parents’ trailer after the arrest, they were greeted with gunfire.
Scott Raab who was writing an article for GQ magazine is one of the few reporters to have spoken to Larry’s family. He described them as simple, proud people who were convinced of their son’s innocence. And although he didn’t speak directly with Larry, Raab also got a chance to observe him in the Robeson County Jail when he interviewed Sheriff Hubert Stone. His impression—that Larry was a scared kid in way over his head. But scared of what?
The one person known to have interviewed Larry shortly after the arrests was Connee Brayboy, editor of a local Native American magazine called the Carolina Indian Voice. She would not share what she learned in that interview until 2015, and it is a revelation that threatens to turn the entire case upside down. Brayboy says Larry told her that Daniel Green didn’t kill James Jordan. So, why did this only come up nineteen years after the trial? How is that possible?
In this episode we piece together information about Daniel’s co-defendant and childhood best friend, and try to figure out how he ended up testifying against Daniel at trial. One group of people who knew Larry well were Daniel and his family—his mother Elizabeth and sister Eboni. They recall Larry and Daniel playing together at school, sharing meals at their dinner table, having sleepovers when they were kids, and hanging out together as teenagers. But while Daniel sat in prison for an assault charge that was later overturned, he says Larry changed. He was in what Daniel called “the fast lane,” dealing drugs and associating with some dangerous people that Daniel didn’t want to have anything to do with.
Hugh Rogers, Larry’s trial attorney, talks about a different Larry: a polite, keep-his-head-down kind of guy who loved his family and basically knew he had to cut a deal with the state in the James Jordan case in order to save himself. Rogers said Larry didn’t have another option because he had already confessed to being there when James Jordan was shot and killed. He was concerned with saving his life, the death penalty was very much on the table.
Larry has been eligible for parole since 2013 and his case is reviewed every three years. What’s clear is that it’s not in Larry’s best interest to speak to anyone, not now, not ever. But what if he was given a second chance, a chance to tell a different story about what happened the night of James Jordan’s murder, would he take it?