Officials at the Burke-Catawba District Confinement Center have been copying the mail of a man charged with murder and sharing it with a Hickory Police officer.
A judge told them to stop it on Thursday.
The matter involves mail sent from Greydon Keith Hansen, who is charged with murder in the 2017 shooting in the parking lot outside J. McCroskey’s Irish Pub and Grill that left two men and one woman dead and another man wounded.
Hansen’s attorney Lisa Dubs told Superior Court Judge Karen Eady-Williams she found out this week that jail officials at the Burke-Catawba Detention Center had been copying her client’s mail and sending it to Hickory Police Investigator Kim Craig.
The mail included at least one letter from Hansen to Dubs, which is protected by attorney-client privilege.
Dubs said she heard from Assistant District Attorney Jamie Adams on Tuesday that the letter had come into the hands of the officer.
Adams said that Craig reached out to Adams’ legal assistant on Monday. Craig told the legal assistant she had received a letter written by Hansen and intended for Dubs, Adams said.
Craig read the letter, Adams said.
Adams added that she had not read the letter and instructed Craig not to tell her the contents of the letter.
Dubs argued the seizure of the letter violated Hansen’s rights. “So they have the right to inspect mail for their own safety, the safety of their inmates and the policies that they have to keep those people safe,” Dubs said. “What they do not have the right to do is being an arm of the investigation.”
Dubs issued a subpoena for Craig to come to court with the documents. The city of Hickory filed a motion to strike down the subpoena.
Deputy City Attorney Arnita Dula appeared in court representing the city. Craig was present in the courtroom and did bring along a box which contained the letters as well as Craig’s own file of the case.
Williams initially ordered Craig to share the mail with the defense attorneys, but the matter was complicated when it became known that mail from Dontray Tyrell Cumberlander, who is also charged with murder in the McCroskey’s shootings, was also in the box.
All the mail was sealed and the matter will be brought up at a later hearing that will also include Cumberlander and his attorneys.
There was one clear ruling on Friday: no more sharing.
“As to the jail providing the mail — incoming and outgoing mail — to the state or to (officers), that needs to stop, effective immediately,” Eady-Williams said.
Eady-Williams said the order also applies to Cumberlander.
Prison administrator Bill Boughman was present for the hearing.
As he was leaving the courtroom, Boughman said it is not standard practice to copy and share the mail with law enforcement but prison officials did so because they received a request from Hickory police.
This article was updated on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 11:59 a.m. to reflect that two men and a woman were murdered.