District Attorney Mike Hardin: Taking Care of Business


We got quite a few profane, yet anonymous, emails about our story on the election of former prosecutor Maureen Krueger as the new president of Moore Republican Women. We described the event as the “Resurrection of a Failed District Attorney.” (I thought liberals were the only ones who elevated and celebrated failures.)

Well, it appears even The Pilot is begrudgingly helping us make that case.  They published a story over the holiday about the district attorney’s office putting together a “progress report.”  Actually,  most of the stats came from the state’s Administrative Office of Courts and the county Clerk of Court.

One of the more shocking pieces of info in the “progress report” article was how many Moore Countians were having their Sixth Amendment right to a speedy and public trial violated by the D.A.’s office under the Krueger regime. The Pilot listed just a few of them:

[…]Jesse Martin and Debra Dorsett were charged on Aug. 22, 2014 with murder in connection with the death of 71-year-old Elden Kitson Vanderwal on Aug. 23. Vanderwal’s body was found after a fire in a home at 216 Brewer Road near Seagrove. An autopsy later showed he was murdered before the fire was set.

Both Martin and Dorsett had been held in custody for nearly seven years.

Martin received a sentence of between 13 years, eight months to 17 years, five months. Dorsett received a sentence between 13 years, one month to 16 years, nine months.

Co-defendant Dannie Smith was not in custody but his case had been pending the same length of time. The file contained information showing that he was innocent of the charges, and prosecutors dismissed charges.

  • Montice McManus was charged on Oct. 28, 2016 with murder in connection with the death of 12-year-old Jalinda Campbell, who was shot in the chest standing outside a duplex apartment in the 700 block of West Michigan Avenue. Jalinda had been a popular student at Southern Middle School at the time of the shooting. Police say another standing nearby was the intended target of the drive-by shooting.

McManus had been held in custody for nearly five years awaiting trial. He received a sentence of 16-20 years in prison.

  • Jose Angel Castillo was charged April 1, 2017 with statutory sex offense, statutory rape, indecent liberties and been in custody nearly four years awaiting trial. He was sentenced to serve between eight years, eight months to 15 years, five months.
  • Willie Williams was charged with murder on June 17, 2018 in connection with the death of a popular Southern Pines, DJ, 65-year-old, Robert Davis. Davis was shot to death in his Southern Pines home and found on Father’s Day.

Williams had been waiting in jail for three years for his case. Hardin said Superior Court Judge James Webb had issued a speedy trial order in this case in 2019. When set for trial, he pleaded guilty and received a sentence of life in prison without parole.

  • Freeman Scott Ireland was charged on Sept. 28, 2018 with second-degree rape and had been in custody nearly three years. He received a maximum sentence of three years, eight months.
  • Mathew West was charged on Aug. 2, 2019 with statutory sex offense, indecent liberties, statutory rape and dissemination of obscene material and had been in custody for nearly three years awaiting trial. He received a maximum sentence of 17 years. 
  • Dallas Walters Jr. was charged with murder on June 10, 2019 in connection with the death of Rex Hayes Watson, a 57-year-old who was found dead at a home the men shared off Rollins Road in Vass. Walters had been in custody nearly two years awaiting trial. Walters received a maximum sentence of 17.66 years in prison. 
  • Jose Silva Jr was charged on Feb. 14, 2019 with first-degree sexual exploitation, indecent liberties, second-degree sexual exploitation, and statutory rape of a child by an adult. He had been in custody for nearly two years awaiting trial. Silva received a maximum sentence of almost 40 years in prison.
  • Jerry Rickett was charged with first-degree statutory sex offense on March 1, 2019 and had been in custody for more than two years. He received a maximum sentence of more than 24 years in prison.
  •  Jacob Lee, an ex-Army paratrooper charged with drunkenly assaulted the elderly owners of a Southern Pines bed and breakfast in February, 2020, pleaded guilty to first-degree burglary and? felonious assault. He received a maximum prison sentence of slightly more than 18 years in prison.

Additionally, Hardin’s office attempted to work on the backlog of old cases that had been sitting in District Court.

In March, shortly after taking office, Hardin’s office identified 74 Driving While Impaired cases pending in Moore County District Court, with dates of offense from 2019 or earlier.

In an effort to dispose of these, Hardin requested a special four-day session of district court.

As a result, 46 DWI cases were scheduled for trial. Of those, 35 were dispatched, with 31 resulting in guilty verdicts. Overall, the special session ended in an 88.5 percent conviction rate with closure of nearly half of the backlogged cases.

Hardin said in his report he was proud of several other accomplishments this year, including greater outreach by his staff. He said that although a staff member may have spoken with crime victims by phone previously, [the victims] had never actually met with the attorney in their case.

Hardin said the office also dedicated a new children’s room in the Moore County office to accommodate child victims.

And he said prosecutors began mandatory stamping of serious felony files, allowing law enforcement to sit down and discuss these cases shortly after cases were charged.[….]

Delaying all of these trials may be beneficial to the schedules of the defense lawyers out there, but the practice really denies justice to the accused AND the victims.  The aforementioned delays all occurred under the Krueger regime.

Another interesting point The Pilot made was how much the felony  case clearance / disposal rate had increased from the Krueger era to the Hardin era:

[…] According to data supplied by the Administrative Office of the Courts, Hardin’s office had closed 1,854 felony cases as of Dec. 1[2021].  That compares to 601 cases closed in 2018 [Krueger]; 719 cases closed in 2019 and 657 cases closed in 2020 [both Krueger years], according to the Administrative Office of the Courts.[…]

Mike Hardin took over the office on January 1 of this year.

In one year,  Hardin closed nearly as many felony cases as Krueger did in THREE YEARS.

As a reminder, Hardin beat Krueger’s hand-picked successor (and Obama donor), Arthur D’Onadio in the GOP primary by roughly 2-1.

How has the new president of Moore Republican Women dealt with all of this?  She’s been on local radio and running around the county, with her boyfriend in tow, bad-mouthing Hardin.

Well, thank goodness the taxpayers are rid of Krueger now.  She’s now exclusively Moore Republican Women’s problem.