The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

July 10, 2013

Board OKs council man's candidacy

Candidate pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter in case of mother's death

Tiffany Thompson

Wednesday, July 10, 2012 — Despite pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter 14 years ago, an Albemarle man who has filed for candidacy for a seat on Albemarle City Council will be permitted on the ballot, according to Kim Wilson, Stanly County elections director.

Joe Ira Canupp, 58, filed his candidacy with the Stanly County Board of Elections on July 5. He is seeking the District 2 seat on Albemarle City Council.

“He is eligible to run. North Carolina law only prevents him from running for the office of sheriff,” Wilson said, citing a referendum to the North Carolina Consistitution that was adopted in 2010.

“Other than that, he cannot be disqualified to run so long as his citizenship rights have been restored.”

According to the Stanly County Board of Elections Office, Canupp did fail to include the manslaughter conviction on his filing application. He has until the end of the filing period, July 19, to complete the application or he could face further charges. 

Canupp says he intends to correct the application within the next few days.

“I’m going to straighten it out. I’m going to get a copy of my serious convictions and take them to the Board of elections office and straighten it out,” Canupp said.

Albemarle Police arrested Canupp April 5, 1987 and charged him with first-degree murder in the death of his mother, Annie Belle Canupp.

According to The Stanly News & Press archives, Canupp was arrested after officers with Albemarle Police Department discovered the body of his mother in a shallow grave approximately 100 yards from her home. She had a gun shot wound to her chest, a broken neck and wounds to her forehead, according to autopsy reports. Police believe the body had laid in the grave for as many as five days before it was found.

Canupp pled guilty to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter more than 12 years later at a hearing on Aug. 5, 1999, but he was found incompetent to stand trial.

During the hearing, Canupp, who had been diagnosed with chronic paraonid schizophrenia, entered an Alford plea, which allowed him to be released from state custody. According to the Legal Information Institute, the Alford plea allows a defendant to accept the ramifications of a guilty verdict without admitting to committing the crime.

Canupp was given credit for 4,501 days of confinement, during which time he spent more than 12 years in Broughton and Dorthea Dix mental hospitals.

He has also been convicted of indecent exposure, assault, assault on a female, larceny of a motor vehicle, worthless check, felony breaking and entering, and escaping from prison.

Canupp will appear on the Sept. 10 ballot for the Democratic Primary as he is currently being challenged by John R. (Jack) Bell.