No new trial for L.C. Underwood
A former Salisbury police officer serving life in prison for murder will not get a new trial, a federal appeals court has ruled.
In a filing today, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a year-old order by a federal judge to vacate the conviction of Lamont Claxton “L.C.” Underwood in the 1993 kidnapping and murder of Viktor Gunnarsson.
The trial drew international attention since Gunnersson had been accused and cleared in the 1986 assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme. The Discovery Channel aired a documentary on the investigation after Underwood was convicted.
Underwood, now 59, is serving a life sentence plus 40 years. He is currently in the Marion Correctional Center.
Prosecutors contended that Underwood was jealous of Gunnarsson, seeing him as a romantic rival for Kay Weden, Underwood’s former fiance. Prosecutors contended that Underwood stalked, spied on and harassed Weden, eventually kidnapping Gunnarsson from his home and taking him to a secluded area along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Watauga County before shooting and killing him.
The state also contended that three days later, Underwood shot and killed Weden’s mother, Catherine Miller, at her Westcliffe home off U.S. 70. Underwood was never tried for Miller’s death.
In January 2010, the federal court for the Western District of North Carolina agreed with Underwood’s claim of ineffective counsel in the case and ordered he be given a new trial or released from prison. The state immediately appealed that ruling.