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WRAL’s Amanda Lamb adds insight into the murder of James Jordan with her new podcast.
WRAL reporter Amanda Lamb has always relied on pictures to help tell the story. But with her new podcast, Follow the Truth (slated to release in the coming weeks), she is switching mediums and inviting listeners on a journey through the murder, trial and convictions associated with the death of James Jordan almost 30 years ago.
“I think when you’re telling a story and trying to build an arc, the beauty of the podcast medium is that you can breathe,” says Lamb. “You can allow the listener to maybe go down a few rabbit holes, a few tangents that aren’t critical to the main story, but give them some extra context that you’re just not going to get in a visual medium.”
Follow the Truth follows the premise of the recently released and locally produced docuseries, Moment of Truth, which covers the 1993 murder of NBA star Michael Jordan’s father in Lumberton, NC. Lamb, who appears in the docuseries, was able to access WRAL’s archives to build her story through the podcast.
“If you were doing this from the ground up, you would have to somehow get access to all of these archives to the news footage, to the trial and what happened during the trial,” says Lamb. “That’s been pretty amazing that I have that access to all of this archival footage and stories that were done by WRAL reporters for many, many years.”
For those unfamiliar with the trial, Larry Demery and Daniel Green were charged with Jordan’s murder in Robeson County. Demery accused Green of being the trigger man. Because of the laws at the time, the state could not guarantee Demery a reduced sentence, but they told the jury he cooperated to save him from the death penalty (which also got him a deal on some other robbery charges).
Demery is set to be released on parole in 2023, while Green is serving a life sentence, but has always maintained his innocence in not pulling the trigger. Covering the case since 2009, Lamb has built up a relationship with Green, exchanging letters and phone calls over the years.
“I had a very personal perspective to bring to the podcast that is unique,” Lamb says. “We had done a couple of stories over the years, but really it turned into more of a friendship where I became a sounding board for him, just listening to his concerns about the case—but also just about life and about being incarcerated.”
The podcast is similar to the docuseries in that it delves into the background of the Jordan family and goes through the details of the trial, but it also takes its own approach to topics like the history of Robeson County. Lamb interviewed a Native American historian to discuss racial divide in the area, why things were the way they were, and how many generations it took to undo some of the problems that existed and still exist today.
Lamb says her favorite episode of the podcast was her interview with Green’s mother and sister. “Having covered so many cases over the years from both the perspective of the defendant’s family and also the victim’s family, you realize how a murder has a ripple effect that goes out in concentric circles,” says Lamb. “It doesn’t just affect the person who is accused or the person who is killed, but it affects all of their family members.”
Other people who make an appearance on the podcast include Green’s godmother and Christine Mumma (Green’s attorney who is very well-known in North Carolina for her work on innocence cases). Several people from WRAL who worked during the trial make an appearance as well, including Debra Morgan, who experienced Demery’s father firing shots in the air during an interview attempt.
“We talked to some journalists who covered the case and who were there,” Lamb says. “They give you real insight into the circus atmosphere around it, but then also underlying concerns about the potential corruption and racism in the county at the time.”
Ultimately, that insight from people directly involved provides more understanding on why and how things happened—and gives the podcast a more personal feel. “I wanted my project to be a companion project, but also be unique,” says Lamb. “People who enjoyed the docuseries will get a more in-depth insight into some of these characters and these moments that you can do in a podcast.”
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