'This is not right': Durham family forced to relive murder of their daughter from 20 years ago

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Friday, December 16, 2022
Durham family forced to relive their daughters murder 20 years later
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A local advocacy group is praising Durham County for taking a fresh look at some criminal sentences.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A local advocacy group is praising Durham County for taking a fresh look at some criminal sentences.

Emancipate NC said a number of life without parole sentences are too long and they overwhelmingly target people of color.

As a result of one of these cases being reopened, one local family is reliving their daughter's murder again.

"This is not right," said Frances Perkins, mother of Tia Carroway. "I shouldn't be here in front of you all discussing this over and and over again to anybody."

Back in July 2002, Tia was at the KFC on Horton Road near Roxboro Street on her lunch break from her nursing job at then Durham Regional Hospital.

The 23-year-old went missing and investigators later determined she had been abducted from there and shot off Cook Road near Alben Street.

In 2004 two men plead guilty including Anthony Patterson who was sentenced to life without parole.

"When you take a plea, you take the plea," Frances said. "I want my life even though I took a life."

The plea is now in doubt after the family learned Durham District Attorney Satana Deberry is reexamining this and other cases.

"There are clear racial disparities when sentencing Black and Brown people to life without parole versus anybody else," said Kerwin Pittman of Emancipate NC.

He said each case is different and they're not taking sides in any of them but they're encouraged that Durham is looking.

"For a county to start looking at these disparities to see if there were errors made in these cases, and see if we can rectify some of these disparities is a move in the right direction," Pittman said.

The DA is looking to reduce sentences for five people including four convicted of murder.

Frances Perkins and her husband Rodney are adamant they will be at the courthouse every time they are called there to keep the sentencing where it is.

"We want to be heard. She doesn't have a voice. Her family is her only voice," Frances said.

Tia was a Hillside High School and NC Central graduate.

"We got closure so now we don't have closure. That door is open again," said Rodney. "This is 20 years later for some folks but it's today for us always. This never goes away."

Durham DA's Office provided this statement to ABC11 about the resentencing hearings:

"Ensuring the integrity of prior convictions and sentences is as important a part of a prosecutor's job as our day-to-day work. Given the history of prosecutorial misconduct in Durham County, my office's commitment to equity means we take that seriously.

Wednesday's hearings were held for the court to consider motions made by five individuals seeking reductions in their sentences based on issues involving their original cases, their youth at the time of the offense, and their intellectual disabilities. None of the motions, if granted, would have resulted in an individual's imminent release from prison. Based on the law and the facts involved, the State's position was to consent to relief, pending the court's approval. Ultimately, those decisions are in the judge's discretion, and we respect the decisions made as well as the sentiment that some of the cases may be appropriate for re-consideration at a later date.

We also agree wholeheartedly with the judge that these are very serious cases. My office made efforts to contact the families involved in each case prior to scheduling them for court and worked with families to ensure the court would hear their input if they wished, to include providing written statements for consideration prior to the hearings."