• 43°

Cooper issues pardons of innocence to five men

By Bryan Anderson, Associated Press/Report for America

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday the pardons of five men convicted of crimes he believes they did not commit.

Among the prisoners is Ronnie Long, who spent 44 years in prison for a rape he says he did not commit. Long was freed in August. Cooper’s actions allow him and four other ex-convicts to apply for compensation of $50,000 a year up to $750,000 for their wrongful felony convictions.

“We must continue to work to reform our justice system and acknowledge when people have been wrongly convicted,” Cooper said in a statement. “I have carefully reviewed the facts in each of these cases and, while I cannot give these men back the time they served, I am granting them Pardons of Innocence in the hope that they might be better able to move forward in their lives.”

Teddy Isbell Sr., Kenneth Kagonyera, Damian Mills and Larry Williams Jr. were also pardoned.

A pardon of forgiveness is most frequently requested to absolve someone of their conviction, according to the Department of Public Safety. A pardon of innocence, however, can be granted when an individual has been convicted and the criminal charges are later dismissed. This opens the door for up to $750,000 available in compensation from the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

Long was a 20-year-old black man living in Concord when he was accused of raping a white woman. Long’s attorneys have said that more than 40 fingerprints collected from the scene were never shared and did not match Long’s. Semen samples also were never disclosed to the defense. They later disappeared.

In 2003, Isbell pled guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon. He was sentenced to serve a sentence between 5.5 and 7.5 years. A judge concluded in 2015 that all charges should be dismissed and his conviction vacated.

Kagonyera was sentenced to 12 to 15 years after he pled guilty to second-degree murder he was alleged to have committed in 2000.

Mills had a 10-to-13-year sentence after he pled guilty to second-degree murder, attempted robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon.

At age 16, Williams pled guilty to second-degree murder, which carried a sentence between about 8 and 11 years.

Kristie Puckett-Williams, statewide manager of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina’s initiative to cut the U.S. jail and prison population in half to address racial inequities, praised Cooper’s action but wants him to do more going forward.

“More can and must be done by Gov. Cooper,” said a statement from Puckett-Williams. “The people of North Carolina are looking for leadership in dismantling the racist criminal legal system, a system that he has played a role in creating during the past three decades that he has held elected office. With more than 30,000 people currently incarcerated in state prisons, we urge the governor to use his executive powers further to allow redemption for those who deserve another chance and to redeem a system that continues to have a disparate impact on people of color.”

READ ABOUT MORE NEWS HERE.

RECENT HEADLINES:

COVID-19 update: New cases set record number across state

UNC-Chapel Hill suspends three fraternities that feds linked to drug ring

News

Marc Basnight Bridge to close for 30 minutes Monday for survey scan

Lifestyles

First official Coast Guard Half Marathon announced

Lifestyles

Dare County after-school teacher Shelawn Burton named NC School Hero

Currituck

Currituck County sees downward trend in COVID cases, upward for community growth

News

North Carolina man ‘ecstatic’ to win $1 million prize on scratch-off ticket

News

Columbia wastewater report available for review

Schools

Tyrrell Elementary School award winners named

News

Southern Shores Planning Board continues work on code updates

Crime

North Carolina man receives 30 years in federal prison for drug charges

Crime

Defendant sentenced to 72 months imprisonment for trafficking methamphetamine

News

Dare County to purchase Mako’s for future EMS station

News

Dare County Regional Airport gets funding for land acquisition

News

Halifax County man wins $110,000 Cash 5 jackpot

Lifestyles

Dare County Parks and Recreation facility reopenings announced

Lifestyles

Red Cross blood drive schedule set for March

News

Debt report says North Carolina government has more borrowing capacity

Crime

Former Marine gets prison time for smuggling guns to Haiti

News

Government offers plan to release more endangered red wolves

Lifestyles

Polar Plunge benefits Special Olympics

News

NC Senate approves bill allowing concealed handguns at more churches

Crime

Cooper announces reward for information on Wilson County murders

News

More federal coronavirus relief funds debated by NC House

News

Public meeting addresses Avon beach nourishment

Lifestyles

Outer Banks Community Foundation honors 2020 champions, elects 2021 board