NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - James Pone, who was sentenced to life in prison, is one of twenty inmates expected to be released next week. WECT was the first to speak with the murder convict Thursday morning.
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. Pone said he was trying to steal $80 from the cab driver when he shot Purdie.
A recent North Carolina Supreme Court ruling in the State v. Bowden case has changed the meaning of a life sentence. The case challenges the way the state issued life sentences in the late seventies.
After being questioned about the recent ruling, Pone said he feels his early release is a blessing from God.
"I know there are people who think I should be in here for the rest of my life, but I also know there are a lot of people out there who feel I should be out," said Pone.
Pone explained that being behind bars has given him a lot of time to sit and think about what he did. "I knew I was doing wrong from the beginning, but like I said I was a kid, you know, I was 16-years-old," said Pone.
He said he knew shooting Purdie was wrong, but he is trying to turn his life around. Pone said he wants to become a minister and a motivational speaker for school children. He will be released in Union County, where he'll live with his girlfriend.