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How witness lists become hit lists

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- One of those causes of the increased violence in Wilmington is a hit list.

As WWAY first reported in June, a witness list prosecutors used to convict a gang member was later used by other gang members as a hit list. Both the Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous and New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon confirm that.

Defense Attorney James Payne said it happens because the prosecution and defense must provide copies of their witness lists and defendants have a right to see them.

"The reason that is done is because the jurors ... have to know ahead of time if they're going to hear testimony from people that they know and therefore might be biased either for or against one side," Payne said.

While Payne said a witness list might prevent some people from testifying, he's never personally had an issue with that.

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