Finch, a Wilson native, was wrongfully convicted in the murder of Richard Holloman, a country store shopkeeper on Feb. 13, 1976.
In 1976, Finch was sentenced to die, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The state Supreme Court reduced his sentence to life in prison after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the state's death penalty law unconstitutional.
"I have carefully reviewed Charles Ray Finch's case and am granting him a Pardon of Innocence. Mr. Finch and others who have been wrongly convicted deserve to have that injustice fully and publicly acknowledged," Cooper wrote in a statement Wednesday.
Read the Pardon of Innocence in its entirety here
Finch was formally released from prison in May 2019 -- 43 years after he was convicted.
The pardon makes Finch eligible to file for compensation to people wrongly convicted of felonies.
This marks Cooper's second pardon of innocence after a Durham man was pardoned in April.
The Associated Press contributed to this news report.