UPDATE: Inmate Mocks Death Sentence To Media, Tells Family It's Depressing

A North Carolina man on death row who wrote a taunting letter to a newspaper gives a different version of his life in communications with family members.

Kathy Hembree Ledbetter released a letter Thursday written by her brother, Danny, in which he says life in prison is "overwhelming" and "depressing."

Danny Hembree was sentenced to death for murdering 17-year-old Heather Catterton in 2009. He's scheduled to go on trial in March in the killing of Randi Dean Saldana, whose burned body was found in Blacksburg, S.C.

This week, a letter from Hembree was printed in The Gaston Gazette. He described himself as a man of leisure and taunted readers.

Ledbetter says her brother is mentally ill and wrote the letter as a way of lashing out.

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A death row inmate accused of killing three women and dumping two of them in South Carolina says in a letter to his hometown newspaper that he will spend many years getting decent care and enjoying frequent naps before he meets his end.

"Kill me if you can, suckers," Danny Robbie Hembree Jr. wrote in a letter to The Gaston Gazette. "Ha! Ha! Ha!"

The 50-year-old is on death row at Central Prison in Raleigh for suffocating Heather Catterton, 17, in 2009. He's also accused of the 2009 killing of Randi Dean Saldana, 30, whose burned remains were found near Blacksburg, S.C.

Hembree admitted to taking drugs and having sex with Catterton and Saldana the day they died, but he told jurors he did not kill them or dump their bodies. He is scheduled to go on trial in March for Saldana's killing.

"Is the public aware that the chances of my lawful murder taking place in the next 20 years if ever are very slim?" Hembree asked. "Is the public aware that I am a gentleman of leisure, watching color TV in the A.C., reading, taking naps at will, eating three well-balanced meals a day?"

"The state of North Carolina has sentenced me to death, but it's not real," he wrote. "You citizens of Gaston Co. should petition the state and force them to carry out my murder sentence."

Hembree also is charged with killing Deborah Ratchford, 30, whose body was found in a Gastonia cemetery in 1992.

No one has been executed in North Carolina since 2006.


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  • by JusticeForAll on Jan 27, 2012 at 07:57 PM
    His sister says he is "mentally ill". OF COURSE he is--you'd have to be mentally ill to brutally murder two young women... This man is a "defective unit" that is so dangerous he kills people. He should be "returned to the manufacturer" as soon as possible so that he is no longer a danger...
  • by JJ on Jan 27, 2012 at 07:50 AM
    Maybe he should kill himself and save us all the time and money
  • by Anonymous on Jan 27, 2012 at 07:18 AM
    If he thanks he is eating three well-balanced meals a day as a inmate, he is ill.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 27, 2012 at 07:09 AM
    WITN is there a technical problem with your Reply feature that needs to be addressed? I've had 4 replies disappear in the last couple of days. No indication that it posted. There is normally a message stating that the comment has been submitted, but it doesn't do that. Instead it lags, then when the page updates it looks like nothing was typed and sent. No msg about it, nada.
  • by here Location: here on Jan 27, 2012 at 05:37 AM
    "overwhelming" and "depressing" Awww, poor baby.
  • by Leonard Location: Jacksonville on Jan 27, 2012 at 04:51 AM
    It saddens me to think there is no hope for mankind. Lord Jesus please have mercy on our souls. we will all die sooner or later. then what? Forgiveness is the key to what sets us free. That's up to each of you.....
  • by Sam Location: Kitty Hawk on Jan 26, 2012 at 05:47 PM
    This scum of the earth should be suffering a public hanging and have somebody hit his body thousands of times with a whip out in public just to humiliate him and make him regret what he did. Since my tax dollars go to support that scum, I demand the officials who have allowed him to live like a king need to be removed from their jobs. This justice system must make immediate changes. Think about how much better off the economy would be if he and several others in his situation were sent to death by a public hanging. This is why idiots are running the government and cheating us all out.
  • by Formerly O.L.I. Location: ENC on Jan 26, 2012 at 01:40 PM
    This is so transparent. His guilt is killing him, but more slowly than execution would. He WANTS to die, and soon, probably because his memories/dreams are torturing him. I often think the conscious mind can do more revenge than outright death. However, if he is on DEATH ROW, execute him and be done with it; he's got a great argument to carry it out.
  • by Rick Location: Nc on Jan 26, 2012 at 09:47 AM
    Authenticated! Give me a break.... Do you know him personally or something? Have you had conversations with him? How would you know what "sounds like" something he would say....what a dumb comment, it's not a state mystery who wrote the letter...the guy is a raping/murdering piece of junk. The mystery is why haven't we injected him and carried out the orders of the court.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 26, 2012 at 09:42 AM
    It costs us taxpayers about $40K each year per inmate. We pay our starting teachers $25K. North Carolina has serious problems!
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