Guilford County inmates could be let go after serving abbreviated life sentences
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HIGH POINT -- Two Guilford County inmates could go free even though they both were supposed to serve a life sentence. But in the 70's, life meant 80 years and could be reduced for things like good behavior.
"As soon as you hit the system, they would cut it to 40 years, cut it to 20 years, good time they cut it down some more," said former High Point Police Detective Jim Tobin.
In 1978, Charles Lynch was convicted for burglary and assault in Greensboro. That same year in High Point, Clyde Lovette strangled his ex-girlfriend's 4-year-old boy.
Tobin remembers finding Anthony McBride's body and putting away his killer.
"He took a rope out of his field jacket and tied around his neck and choked him to death with a rope," he said.
Anthony's body was found by railroad tracks in High Point.
"He was a happy child," Carolyn McBride said. "Loved to play."
Anthony's mother never could have imagined her son's murderer being let go, especially since Lovette pleaded guilty to second degree murder to avoid the death penalty.
"What about the victims" McBride asked. "What about the victims? That's what I don't understand."
So far, the North Carolina Appeals Court has agreed with lawyers representing the inmates and ruled that they have served their term.
But state attorneys say prisons shouldn't be obligated to honor reductions on life sentences since laws have changed.
Lawyers from the North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services are arguing that these men have earned their freedom based on their 1978 sentences. But state lawyers disagree and have appealed to the NC Supreme Court, asking that these men remain in prison until they die.
"If they say you got 80 years, that's what you should get," Tobin said.
"I don't want him out," McBride said. "I don't want him out. I really don't."
If this case is not over-ruled by the state supreme court, this could allow 13 other inmates with similar cases to go free.