The ‘Moment of Truth’ director spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HL about his hope that the truth about what happened to James Jordan will be revealed.
Moment of Truth is a 5-part docuseries that tells the never-before-heard story behind the murder of Michael Jordan’s father, James Jordan, in 1993. Matthew Perniciaro, in his directorial debut, examines the complicated and shocking case, as well as the arrest and conviction of Larry Demery and Daniel Green. HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Matthew about why he was adamant about exploring this case.
“What I hope is that we can get to the truth,” Matthew told HollywoodLife. “We call the series Moment of Truth because that’s what we’re striving to discover. This is a case that has been shrouded in mystery and conspiracy theory for decades and part of that is because the information that came out initially never really fully added up. Our goal in telling the story was always to get to the bottom of the truth and approach the story with a great degree of humanity and respect because it’s a sad story. It deals with a loss of someone’s life who was beloved by not only his family but by the entire country. You want to treat that story with great respect because these are real people’s lives, but you also have to present all sides of it. The back half of the series is structured like a trial where you see the prosecution’s position come first. That’s anchored by Larry Demery’s testimony, one of the teenagers who was convicted of the crime. That kind of just became the public narrative of the story. But then also for the first time, audiences will see and hear Daniel Green’s side of the story, the other teenager who was convicted of this crime. He didn’t testify at trial, so his story hasn’t been given as much attention. His story differs greatly from the public narrative. So we wanted to present audiences with all sides of this. As a filmmaker, working in the documentary space, I wanted to have this great degree of investigative detail, but you have to remain unbiased. The minute you start tipping the scales one way or the other when you’re telling a story like this, that story loses credibility. Our goal was really to present each side of the argument. I fully understand that some audiences are going to come out with one understanding and one belief when they watch this, and others might come out with something different. There are a lot of questions that we wanted to delve into, and we knew we had to delve into. Our goal here was always to get involved in the truth. What I hope comes out of that is I believe that there is enough question of facts that this case needs to be looked at again by the court system. As filmmakers, we are not in a position to, nor is it appropriate, to proclaim anyone’s guilt or innocence. That’s what the legal system and our criminal justice system is for, but I do believe that there is enough question of fact as it relates to this case, as well as a degree of ineffective assistance of counsel during Daniel Green’s original trial that an evidentiary hearing is warranted and should be granted.”
James Jordan was killed on July 23, 1993, when he pulled over on the side of the highway in North Carolina. His body was dumped in a swamp and found in a creek on August 13, 1993. Larry and Daniel, who were childhood friends, were later arrested and convicted of James’ murder. Larry testified against Daniel as part of a plea deal and claimed Daniel was the one who shot and killed James. Daniel continues to maintain his innocence nearly 30 years later.
In researching for the docuseries, Matthew admitted that the lack of physical evidence in the case shocked him. “I think there are a lot of elements in the trial that blew my mind,” Matthew said. “We started off by going through the court transcript, which was over 1000 pages. As you’re going through some of the conversations that took place during that trial, there are moments that are shocking, and we reference some of those in the series. I think the one thing that I think audiences will find and that we discovered is the lack of physical evidence in this case, and the lack of how that physical evidence aligns with the public narrative that we’ve kind of have all been told in the previous previously about this case. I think those were very revealing moments. A lot of opinions were stated at trial, and then accepted in the court record and accepted by the media as fact. They were actually opinions. I think clarifying that for people is very important and having an understanding of what transpired here.”
Larry is set to be released from prison in 2023 after he was granted parole. Daniel will not be eligible for parole until October 2021. HollywoodLife asked Matthew if he would be willing to continue the docuseries if more information came to light. “Absolutely. The story continues to evolve,” Matthew said. “We started this project just over three years ago. The story evolved over the course of that period of time and, if the story continues to evolve and there are new developments in the case or new pieces of information that come out, that’s absolutely something that I would love to look into and continue telling the story.”
As for whether the truth will ever come out about what really happened the day James Jordan was murdered, Matthew is not sure. “I don’t know, to be completely honest with you,” Matthew said when asked whether the truth will be revealed. “I think there are only maybe one or two people that know every single detail of what happened that night, and we discuss what they would require for that truth to come out, what those people have stated in the past to tell the detailed truth. But all I can say is that I would hope so because I think everyone deserves that.”
Matthew is a North Carolina native, and he remembered “vividly” hearing about the case when he was just 13 years old. After learning about all the archival footage that was available, the director became excited about tackling this topic because “no one really told the definitive version of the story” back in 1993. “It was also in many ways a very emotional and difficult series to make,” he admitted. “You’re dealing with great loss, two young teenagers who are convicted of this crime, and elements of corruption, the question of facts… You look at all these things, and it’s a difficult thing to create. It deals with a lot of issues that we’re still grappling with today almost 30 years later, and that’s sad on a lot of levels.” Moment of Truth is available on IMDb TV.