• 50°

Governor vows to block prisoners’ release

RALEIGH – Despite being on another continent, North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue refuses to sit still in regards to next week’s scheduled release of 20 prisoners serving life terms.

Gov. Perdue, on a trade trip to China, said in a Thursday press release that she strongly feels these criminals, all but one of which were convicted for murder or rape, do not qualify for early release.

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 Tom 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.

“When I learned that the (North Carolina) Supreme Court had issued a ruling that meant offenders serving life in prison would be released after a mere 35 years, I was appalled,” the Governor said in the press release. “Like most of my fellow North Carolinians, I believe life should mean life, and even if a life sentence is defined as 80 years, getting out after only 35 is simply unacceptable.”

Perdue said since the ruling was announced, she and her staff, “have been doing everything we can to stop the release of these rapists and murderers.”

She added, “These are people who have been denied parole repeatedly, and many who have numerous infractions during their prison stay. I do not believe they are ready for release onto the streets of our communities.”

At issue with the Governor are the “good behavior” credits applied to prisoners incarcerated in North Carolina prisons. Those credits help trim time off a prison term, but Perdue insists they were not meant to apply for inmates whose crimes include murder and/or rape.

“Since last week, we have been scrutinizing the good behavior credits applied to the 20 inmates eligible for immediate release,” Perdue said. “This morning (Thursday), legal counsel and Department of Correction (DOC) staff met with officials who oversaw the application of those behavior credits during the 1980s. At the time, the DOC gave inmates day-for-day credits under the authority of the then-secretary. There is a real question whether the General Assembly intended for the DOC to have that kind of authority. I do not believe they did, and my legal counsel agrees. This raises the very real question that these inmates should not be eligible for early release.”

The Governor stated that until these new legal issues have been resolved by the courts, these violent offenders will not be released.

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.