Documentary Gives New Evidence in Murder of Michael Jordan’s Dad
Michael Jordan is considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Throughout his 15 season career as a player, Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships. Now, at 58 years old, he is the owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. He is also known for his 36-year partnership with shoe giant Nike. He signed with the company in 1984, and many experts argue that he transformed the underdog brand into one of the most recognizable and valuable consumer brands in the world. But what many people forget about the famous athlete is that his father, James Jordan, was tragically murdered at just 56 years old.
But now, a new documentary called “Moment of Truth” looks at the 1993 murder of Michael Jordan’s father and the problematic investigation that followed. The five-part docuseries, aired on Amazon’s IMDb TV, features important court documents, photo evidence, exclusive interviews, and never-before-heard audio of the trial.
The series kicks off in the summer of 1993, when James Jordan went missing for three weeks before his body was discovered in a South Carolina swamp. Jordan was apparently shot to death while he was napping in his red Lexus SC400 after he pulled over on the side of a North Carolina highway while on his way home from a funeral. His body was unrecognizable because it was so badly decomposed, so the coroner marked him as a John Doe and saved his hands and jaw for identification later on.
His car was found destroyed about 60 miles away from his body. Money and personal items, including NBA rings from Michael, were stolen. Eventually, phone records led police to arrest and charge two teenagers with Jordan’s murder: Daniel Green, 19, and Larry Demery, 18. Authorities described the murder as a carjacking gone wrong. But many believe that there was a bigger motive. Some even speculate that it was connected to Michael Jordan’s gambling.
His father’s death devastated Michael. Two months later, he retired from basketball for the first time.
Demery pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in 1995, and agreed to testify against Green in the 1996 trial. Green was also convicted of first-degree murder. Both were sentenced to life in prison, but Demery has since been granted parole and is scheduled to be released in 2023.
“Moment of Truth” explores the theory that Green and Demery were purposely pinned against each other and threatened with the death penalty until one of them caved. Many other aspects of the case continue to intrigue experts.
For example, Chris Mumma, Green’s lawyer and executive director of the North Carolina Center on Actual Innocence, says she “first became involved in Daniel’s case because of the blood issue. What was called blood was shown to the jury. I do not believe scientifically it could be called blood. I don’t think there’s any evidence that there was any blood in the car whatsoever. So that was the first issue. But then the more I learned about the case, the more I learned that there were many issues about it.”
There is also controversy surrounding the shirt James Jordan was wearing at the time of the murder. In 2017, Green’s attorneys asked for a new trial on the basis that someone tampered with James’ shirt after the autopsy. They claimed there was no hole in the shirt that corresponded with the bullet wound in James’ upper chest. However, an agent with the State Bureau of Investigation later refuted that claim during trial. But Green’s lawyers also argue that the shirt went through an unusual chain of custody compared to other evidence. They claim that Dr. Joel Sexton, who performed the autopsy, gave the shirt to a law enforcement officer, who then gave it to a funeral home employee, who then gave it to his boss, who said he buried it in his backyard because it smelled so bad.
Law enforcement later determined that the shirt was important evidence, so they dug it up from the backyard. That is when the SBI agent testified that there was in fact a bullet hole in the upper chest area of the shirt. But Sexton had written in the autopsy report that he found no hole in the shirt that corresponded with James’ bullet wound.
The new documentary hopes to provide new evidence and give some perspective on why the case continues to perplex people almost 30 years later.