Bladen murder convict set for early release

Source: NC Dept. of Correction
Source: NC Dept. of Correction

Reported by Scott Saxton - email

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A man convicted of murdering a taxi driver more than three decades ago in Bladen County will be released from prison later this month.

James Pone is one of twenty convicts affected by the court ruling in the State v. Bowden, a case challenging the way the state issued life sentences in the late seventies.

Pone was convicted in April 1978 of the murder of Neil Purdie in Bladen County.  According to a state release, Purdie was found dead beside his taxi with a blow to the head and a gunshot wound to the chest.  According to an article in the Bladen Journal, Pone confessed to the shooting.  Pone is currently 48 years old.

Pone and 19 other convicts are set to be released from prison on October 29th.  Thursday, North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue asked her attorneys and the state Department of Justice to seek all options in an effort to slow down or even reverse this decision from the courts.  Perdue's release points out dozens of others will be released due to this ruling over the next few years.

"I'm 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," said Governor Perdue in a written statement.  "I don't believe the General Assembly's 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 in the process of contacting all the known victims of crimes about the release of inmates.

The DOC lists Pone as currently being lodged in New Hanover.  His record shows that he has been charged with a dozen infractions since being sent to prison in 1978, including gambling, fighting and using profane language.

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