Murderer’s release sparks outrage

Published 5:43 pm Saturday, October 17, 2009

RALEIGH – Local citizens are joining with North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue in expressing their outrage over the early release of 20 convicted criminals.

Included among those scheduled for release from prison on Oct. 29 is Faye Beatrice Brown. She, along with two males, was charged in 1975 murder of North Carolina State Highway Patrol Trooper Guy Davis of Windsor.

She was sentenced to life in prison for first degree murder and began her incarceration on July 8, 1977. Brown is currently held at the state’s Central Correctional Center for Women in Raleigh.

At the time of her sentencing, Brown’s “life” term meant 80 years behind bars. That changed in the early 80’s when the state’s sentencing laws defined a “life” term as 40 years. Those sentenced prior to that change qualified for a retroactive reduction.

Figuring in “good behavior” merits an inmate receives while behind bars further reduces their time in prison.

A recent decision by the North Carolina Court of Appeals upheld the 40-year “life” sentencing structure. Meanwhile, the North Carolina Supreme Court has declined to overturn the lower court’s ruling.

The ruling also opens the door for the release of other violent offenders whose “life” sentences are now deemed as complete.

Earlier this week, Gov. Perdue asked her attorneys and the N.C. Department of Justice to review all options available to the state to reverse and delay the N.C. Supreme Court ruling.

Each of the first 20 inmates who will be released have been reviewed for parole multiple times and denied. The court’s 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.

“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 Gov. Perdue. “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 decision also took the North Carolina Highway Patrol by surprise.

“The highway patrol is displeased with the ruling. Faye Brown should serve the sentence that was handed down to her at trial,” said Highway Patrol spokesman Capt. Everett Clendenin.

The North Carolina Department of Corrections 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 DOC Office of Victim Services toll free at 1-866-719-0108. In addition, DOC is working to identify recommended re-entry programs for offenders due to be released, although participation cannot be required.

Trooper Davis was shot and killed in Williamston on Sept. 2, 1975 when he stopped a vehicle he observed run a red light at the intersection of U.S. 17 and U.S. 64. Unbeknownst to Patrolman Davis, the vehicle contained three suspects who had just robbed a BB&T bank in nearby Jamesville. When Trooper Davis leaned down to speak with the driver, he was shot with a sawed-off shotgun.

The three suspects –Brown, Frankie Squire and Joseph Seaborn – fled but were later apprehended as they hid in a bean field.

During interrogation, Seaborn admitted to shooting the trooper. He said he picked-up a shotgun in the car and as the trooper approached the driver’s side window of the bank robber’s vehicle, the weapon discharged by accident.

Seaborn is not among those scheduled for release on Oct. 29. He remains incarcerated at Caledonia Correctional Institution, located near Tillery in Halifax County, where he is serving a life term.

Squire died Jan. 4, 2001 while in prison.

In 2004, the North Carolina Department of Transportation named the bridge spanning the Roanoke River on US 17 at the Bertie-Martin County line in honor of Trooper Davis.