WRAL is taking in-depth investigative reporting to a new level this week, with a five-part digital and television look at North Carolina’s Castle Doctrine through the lens of a Harnett County case.
WRAL reporters Tyler Dukes and Mandy Mitchell began exploring the case of Christian Griggs and the Rev. Pat Chisenhall in the spring of 2018 and it quickly became apparent that the story was too important and too complicated to be told in a traditional format.
“Presumption of Fear” is an element of the Castle Doctrine and the core principle in question in daily, long-form reporting online by Dukes and visual story-telling, incorporating an augmented reality re-creation, by Mitchell.
Chisenhall shot Griggs, his son-in-law, to death on a Saturday morning in 2013, saying Griggs was breaking into his house. The shooting was deemed to be justified.
Griggs’ parents filed a wrongful death suit, and that case is expected to be decided heard next week.
The deadly day raises the questions that Dukes and Mitchell sought to answer in their series:
- Does North Carolina’s Castle Doctrine law provide too broad of a legal shield for people who shoot intruders or trespassers?
- Did the Harnett County Sheriff’s Department conduct an adequate investigation? And did the district attorney come to the correct conclusion, that no charges were warranted?
- Was race a factor?
Dukes and Mitchell conducted dozens of interviews and had interview requests turned down by more than a dozen people.
They argued with the Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office over access to records from the investigation, which was concluded in early 2014.
Those records should become public and may provide some answers when the case goes to trial on Dec. 4. WRAL plans to cover the trial from start to finish, and will stream the trial online if the judge allows.
Dukes and Mitchell are accomplished, veteran reporters.
Dukes, WRAL.com’s investigative reporter, is an expert on public records and data journalism. He has been with WRAL since 2013 and has been an adjunct instructor of journalism at Duke University and the University of North Carolina. He completed a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University in 2016-2017.
Mitchell, WRAL’s enterprise reporter, has been with the station since 2011. She won an Edward R. Murrow Award for sports reporting in 2014 and an Emmy Award in 2015. She shifted from sports to news in 2017.
When and How to Watch
Complementary installments of “Presumption of Fear” debut daily, Monday through Friday, Nov. 26-30, at 6 a.m. on WRAL.com and in the WRAL News app and at 5:45 p.m. on WRAL-TV.
Catch up on the entire series at wral.com/fear.
Binge watch on the WRAL News app for Roku, Amazon Fire, Apple TV and other connected devices.
Thanks to WRAL.com’s Jodi Glusco & David Hendrickson for this capcom story & graphic.