A state Supreme Court decision on the length of a "life" sentence may force the state to release 20 violent offenders this month.
Earlier this month, the state Supreme Court upheld a decision in the case of Bobby Bowden, who was convicted of two murders, the Associated Press reported. A 1974 law defined a life sentence as 80 years. Because Bowden has accrued time off for good behavior and time served, he has argued that his life sentence is complete.
The old law has Department of Correction officials worried about having to release some 120 inmates sentenced when the law was in place, according to the AP.
Gov. Beverly Perdue has asked state lawyers to try to reverse or delay the release. Seven of those who could get released were originally sentenced to death. Each of the first 20 inmates who will be released have been reviewed for parole and denied multiple times. The courts decision also prevents any additional review or recommendation by the Parole Commission, nor can these offenders be subject to any kind of monitoring or post-release supervision.
"Im appalled that the state of North Carolina is being forced to release prisoners who have committed the most heinous of crimes, without any review of their cases, Perdue said in a statement. "I dont believe the General Assemblys intent in 1974 was to let these violent offenders out of prison early. Releasing these potentially dangerous criminals is not in the best interest of the state or our citizens."
The Department of Correction is attempting to notify all known victims of these crimes and is working with district attorneys and victims advocates to locate victims for whom it does not have current contact information. Victims who have not been contacted are asked to call the Office of Victim Services toll free at 1-866-719-0108.
Here are the 20 inmates scheduled to be released Oct. 29:
John M. Montgomery, 58: Convicted of first-degree rape in Forsyth County in 1973 for raping a 15-year-old girl while on escape from Guilford Correctional Center. Will have to register as a sex offender.
Alford Jones, 55: Convicted of first-degree murder in Lenoir County in 1976 for shooting a man in the chest during an attempted robbery.
Andrew T. Carter, 62: Convicted of first-degree murder in Durham County in 1978. Victim was sexually molested before being strangled to death.
Omega Perry, 52: Convicted of second-degree rape in Vance County in 1977 for using a knife to threaten and rape a woman multiple times in her home. Will have to register as a sex offender.
James Pone, 48: Convicted of second-degree murder in Bladen County in 1978 for killing Neil Purdie, who was found dead beside his taxi from a blow to the head and a gunshot wound to his chest.
Willie H. Womble, 55: Convicted of first-degree murder in Granville County in 1977 for killing
Roy Brent Bullock, who was shot twice in the mouth and once in the chest.
William Baggett, 60: Convicted of first-degree murder in Sampson County in 1968 for the killing of James Williams.
Willard Warren, 61: Convicted of first-degree murder in Haywood County in 1976 for killing Leo Jack Clark.
John H. Alford, 61: Convicted of first-degree rape in Forsyth County in 1978 for the rape of a victim during a robbery in Winston-Salem. Will have to register as a sex offender.
James C. Johnson, 68: Convicted of first-degree murder in Montgomery County in 1978 for the killing of John Farley Hall.
Manley Porter, 61: Convicted of first-degree rape w/armed robbery in Forsyth County in 1976 for raping a victim during a robbery. Will have to register as a sex offender.
Kenneth Mathis, 55: Convicted of first-degree rape in Burke County in 1978 for assaulting a woman when she was walking home from work. She was forced into a wooded area and assaulted. Will have to register as a sex offender.
Faye B. Brown, 56: Convicted of first-degree murder in Martin County in 1977 for killing a state trooper, Guy Davis, while fleeing a bank robbery. Will have to serve 20 years of federal parole after release from state prison.
John W. Martin, 56: Convicted of second-degree rape in Guilford County in 1977. Will have to register as a sex offender.
Charles E. Lynch, 57: Convicted of two counts of second-degree burglary and assault with intent to commit rape in Guilford County in 1979 for breaking into victims home, waiting for her to arrive and assaulting her. He also broke into another home and stole a necklace and was suspected in nine other assaults.
Steven C. Wilson, 52: Convicted of kidnapping and first-degree rape in Lenoir County in 1978 for abducting and raping a 9-year-old girl. Will have to register as a sex offender.
Raymond E. Dull, 63: Convicted of first-degree rape in Iredell County in 1976 for abducting a woman at knife point and then raping her. Will have to register as a sex offender.
Dewey L. Gray, 62: Convicted of first-degree rape, first-degree burglary, and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury in Mecklenburg County in 1977 for using a gun and knife to force his way into victims home, dragging her outside and raping, beating and stabbing her. Will have to register as a sex offender.
Cecil W. Morrison, 49: Convicted of second-degre rape in Guilford County in 1977 for raping a girl under the age of 12 at knife point. He abducted the victim while she was walking home from school. Will have to register as a sex offender.
Bobby Bowden, 60: Convicted of first-degree murder in Cumberland Couinty in 1973 for killing Larry Lovette and Norma C. Ehrhart.
Source: Office of Gov. Beverly Perdue