Gov may have had role in murderer release

November 3, 2009 3:55:34 PM PST
As North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue fights to block the release of dozens of North Carolina prisoners with violent pasts, she is defending her role in the release of a double murderer.Sally Holloman of Wayne County was convicted of two killings in the early 1980s. Prosecutors said she poisoned her second husband by lacing his tea and hospital IV with arsenic, and she shot and killed a Johnston County businessman.

Prosecutors sought the death penalty, but the law at the time didn't allow for it. When it came time for Holloman to be eligible for parole, she came to work in - then - Lieutenant Governor Perdue's office.

According to Governor Perdue's spokesperson Chrissy Pearson, the - then - Lt. Gov Bev Perdue and her staff provided North Carolina Department of Corrections and the North Carolina Parole Board a work evaluation of Sally Holloman as part of the parole process.

Perdue and her staff gave Holloman high marks, saying she did a "good job."

A Perdue spokesperson said years later, and after two decades serving a life sentence, Holloman was set free. She has been on parole for nearly four years.

For the Governor, Holloman's case and the 27 offenders she's fighting to keep behind bars are not comparable.

A recent North Carolina Supreme Court ruling said North Carolina laws in the 1970s set a life sentence at 80 years. Prisoners sentenced then are arguing that with time off for good behavior and other reductions, they've paid their debts to society and should be set free.

Click here for more information on each inmate (.pdf)

Governor Perdue says the 27 should not go free, and has blocked their release while challenging the way the good behavior credits were tabulated.

Perdue says she doesn't see a contradiction between her stance on the 27 and the Holloman case.

She says Holloman is an example of how the correction system works. Holloman was tried for her crime, served her time, and was paroled with supervision. Most of the other 27 inmates have been denied parole multiple times. Perdue believes releasing them without supervision is a problem.

"Totally different from what we're talking about now," Perdue said to reporters Monday. "I'm talking about people who were on death row who were taken off death row by the courts who are just determined for whatever reason to be let go. No supervision. No oversight in your neighborhood. And that's what I find so heinous."

The inmates were supposed to be released last Thursday. But under the Governor's order, the Department of Correction continues to hold them. Only one of the inmates waiting to be released would be supervised.

"In this state, life was intended to mean life and with all due respect to the courts, I really hope and pray they think this through a second time, because it's the wrong thing to happen in our state," Perdue said.

As for Holloman:

"Sally is working now in the private sector, making good money," Perdue said. "She is an older woman who I believe is very well supervised."

"I do believe that folks who are on parole, who are monitored and supervised can indeed participate in the community because there's always a set of rules," Perdue added. "There's always a set of parameters. So nobody's out there a free agent."

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