Appeals court blocks New Hanover inmate's release

Alford Jones Source: NC Governor's Office
Alford Jones Source: NC Governor's Office

Posted by Scott Saxton - email

RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - A North Carolina Superior Court Judge's ruling could have paved the way for a convicted murderer to be released from the New Hanover County Correctional Center, but a state appeals court has temporarily blocked that release.

Superior Court Judge Ripley Rand ruled Monday morning in the cases of convicted murderers Alford Jones and Faye Brown.  Rand's ruling said the Department of Correction is wrongly interpreting its regulations on sentence-reduction credits.

Attorneys for the two convicts argued they had received years of sentence-reduction credits while behind bars.  They say the credits, on top of a 1970s law that defined "life" sentences as 80 years, mean their prison terms are complete.

Jones is currently being housed in the New Hanover County Correctional Center in the murder of a store owner in Lenoir County in 1975.

New Hanover County is also housing another inmate who is attempting to be released based on this "life sentence" decision.  James Pone was convicted of killing a taxi cab driver in the late 1970s in Bladen County.

The appeals court clerk issued an order Monday afternoon approving a request to halt the case, but he gave no explanation.

The decision gives state attorneys another chance to argue the inmates should not be set free.

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Copyright 2009 WECT. All rights reserved.  The Associated Press contributed to this report.