Professor Mark Rabil and Innocence and Justice Clinic featured in Record & Landmark article chronicling Norman Satterfield’s wrongful conviction

Photo of Wake Forest Law Professor Mark Rabil

Professor Mark Rabil, director of the Wake Forest University Innocence and Justice Clinic

The Innocence and Justice Clinic and Director Professor Mark Rabil was featured in the Statesville Record & Landmark article, “‘MY OWN HELL’: 37 years after rape, victim’s life remains forever changed and a prisoner maintains his innocence,” published by Robert E. Lee on Sept. 4, 2016.

The articles chronicles the wrongful conviction of Norman Satterfield of Statesville, N.C.  Statterfield was sentenced to life in prison in 1979 for rape and burglary charges.  In 2012, the Innocence and Justice Clinic took his case.  Satterfield was expected to be released this past spring.  Instead, his sentence was reduced due to an overlooked common robbery conviction.

The first section of the article follows.

March 13, 1979: Around 11 p.m., a knitter in her late 20s arrives home to her Statesville duplex after a long day of work at a local factory.

A short time later, two of her three children – ages 2 and 6 — are dropped off by her sister. The woman puts the kids to bed then begins to unwind.

Just as she’s getting comfortable, a bang on the door startles her. She pulls open the door a few inches and sees a small group of people. She figures it’s folks from a party she heard in the duplex’s other apartment.

One asks if the woman is interested in selling the white Plymouth Fury parked in the backyard. It isn’t hers, she tells them. Her husband could talk to them about it, but he wouldn’t be home for a few hours. She closes the door and continues to try to relax.

But soon she hears the faint sound of her back door opening.

She walks to the door and closes it, then returns to her bedroom. There she finds the contents of her purse strewn on the floor.

Now it’s clear that someone is in the apartment with her.

Guarded, the woman then walks into the kitchen. Just then, a man steps out of the shadows and comes face to face with her. He’s wearing dark clothing. There’s red paint on his boots.

She can’t look, and covers her face with her hands. She sobs as she begs him to leave. She then feels something press against her head.

“Shut up,” the man says. “If you want to live, you’ll do as I tell you.”

He then begins raping her. She’s helpless as her youngest child cries in the distance.

“In that minute, you see your whole life flash by,” the woman recalled. “You do what you need to do in order to save you and your children’s life.”

Then, he stops. The woman falls to the ground.

He tells her his name is John, and warns her to “Look out your window tomorrow night. I’ll be back.”