After 35 Years, Mecklenburg Co.'s D.A. Stepping Down


MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C.,None - On Tuesday, voters will elect Mecklenburg County's first new district attorney in 35 years.

Peter Gilchrist has been behind every major case in the county since 1975, including the trial of former Carolina Panthers player Rae Carruth, the murders of Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers and the case of serial killer Henry Lewis Wallace.

RAW VIDEO: Gilchrist Discusses The Most Fascinating Cases Of His Career

"I think we've had lots of cases that have been big -- I think anytime a police officer is killed in the line of duty," Gilchrist said. "I've probably had a dozen very sad cases where police officers were killed in the line of duty and every one of those has been difficult."

In two months, Gilchrist will step down as district attorney. He told Eyewitness News anchor Blair Miller that the decision was clear.

"If you were trying to do a business the way our courts are run in Mecklenburg County, you'd be bankrupt," Gilchrist said.

Gilchrist said he's spent the last four years unsuccessfully chasing two big goals: increasing salaries for his staff, to get them closer to those of private lawyers, and getting money to update technology in the D.A.'s office.

RAW VIDEO: Gilchrist Shares Regrets From His Career

"And it doesn't look like they'll be accomplished in the next four years, so I decided that this is just the time to let somebody else have a try at it," he said.

That somebody else will be either Andrew Murray or Michael Barnes. Both have promised some of the same changes that Gilchrist wanted.

"What's that famous story -- there are three people who you never believe: a drunk, a man who's in love or a man who's running for political office," Gilchrist said. "Whoever gets it will have to deal with all of the same problems that we deal with today."

Gilchrist added that he does not plan to endorse one of the candidates, but said he wants to make sure he can work with either one to make sure the transition is smooth when he leaves office.

Afterward, he said, he looks forward to quieter days spent traveling and relaxing with his wife.

"There are a lot of things I want to do, and it's time," he said.