CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — Orange County prosecutors dismissed charges this week against two men who had appealed their conviction in the 2018 toppling of the Silent Sam Confederate statue on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus.
The decision was based on having to prioritize cases piling up in the Orange County court system since it was shut down by the COVID-19 outbreak in March, Orange-Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall said.
“We’re not in control of COVID-19 and we’ve had no control over the fact that we’ve had court shut down, and realistically, it will be months and months before we ever get to these cases, and we simply have to prioritize,” Woodall said.
Raul Arce Jimenez and Shawn Birchfield-Finn, along with three others, were charged with injury to real property, misdemeanor riot, and defacing a public statue or monument after the statue’s removal in August 2018.
Jimenez also was charged in connection with the 2017 toppling of the Durham Confederate statue but was later found not guilty.
District Court Judge Lunsford Long dismissed the charges against two defendants in April 2019 but convicted Jimenez and Birchfield-Finn of all three charges and sentenced them to 24 hours in jail.
The defendants’ attorney Scott Holmes appealed the case to Superior Court and requested a jury trial, delaying the sentence.