Convicted of second-degree murder in Burke County, North Carolina, in November 1920, Cecil Harper was exonerated five months later after the prosecutor and trial judge for his case convinced Governor Cameron Morrison to grant Hefner a full pardon based on new evidence of his innocence.
On the night of November 20, 1920, Glenn Lippard was shot and killed in Burke County, North Carolina. His body was found the next day. Lippard had been in the woods that night with his friend, 16-year-old Dock Hefner, to sell alcohol to two friends, Lone Young and Baxter Hildebrand, and to meet a woman, Lynn Lou. The four men drank and shot dice in the woods that evening and ended up getting into a dispute between Glenn Lippard, Dock Hefner, and Lone Young that ended with Lippard being shot in the back.
Initially, Lynn Lou, a witness to the shooting, reported to police that the three men who were with Lippard that evening were Lone Young, Dock Hefner, and Dock’s brother, Cecil Hefner, who had a similar appearance to Baxter Hildebrand. A few days later, in December 1920, Dock Hefner, Lone Young, and Cecil Hefner were all convicted of second-degree murder. Cecil Hefner was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.
However, as police eventually obtained confessions from Lone Young and Baxter Hildebrand, the two men confessed that Cecil Hefner had not been present on the evening of the shooting, and that Lynn Lou must have been confused about Hildebrand’s identity. Solicitor Huffman and Judge Shaw, before whom the case was tried, investigated the case and found new alibi evidence that proved conclusively Cecil Hefner was not present when Glenn Lippard was killed.
On April 4, 192l, Governor Cameron Morrison granted Hefner a full pardon based on the recommendations of Solicitor Huffman and Judge Shaw after Hefner had served five months of his fifteen year sentence.
– Researched by Kristina Infante
The National Registry of Exonerations is a project of the Newkirk Center for Science & Society at University of California Irvine, the University of Michigan Law School and Michigan State University College of Law. It was founded in 2012 in conjunction with the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law. The Registry provides detailed information about every known exoneration in the United States since 1989—cases in which a person was wrongly convicted of a crime and later cleared of all the charges based on new evidence of innocence. The Registry also maintains a more limited database of known exonerations prior to 1989.
We welcome new information from any source about exonerations already on our list and about cases not in the Registry that might be exonerations.