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Florida Says Wilson Will Have To Register As Sex Offender

By: Michael Baldwin/Dave Jordan
By: Michael Baldwin/Dave Jordan

KINSTON, NC--A man who is scheduled to be released next week from prison after being sentenced to "life in prison" will have to register as a sex offender if he moves to Florida.

Steven Wilson is one of 20 "lifers" scheduled for release on October 29th because of a recent court ruling.

Wilson, a former Marine, was convicted for raping and kidnapping a 9-year-old girl in Kinston in 1977.

The Department of Correction in Raleigh says Wilson intends to move to Florida when he is released from prison. A Florida Department of Corrections spokesman tells WITN News that Wilson will have to register as a sex offender.

Only one of the 20 men and women scheduled to be released will have any post-release supervision, other than, like Wilson, some will have to register as sex offenders.


Previous Story

On Thursday, October 29th, about 20 inmates convicted of rape and murder and serving life sentences, are scheduled to be released from prison.

A former Marine, Steven Wilson, was 20 years old when he kidnapped and raped a 9 year-old girl in the late 70s.

The abduction happened in the Mitchell Wooten section of Kinston. The victim is now in her 40s, a college graduate and mother. She is speaking out for the first time only to WITN.

Reporter Michael Baldwin asked the victim what she would say to Wilson if she saw him on the streets.

"You know as I reflect back and I really begin to think about what happened to me and how it destroyed my life, my family, my mother, my uncles, how it changed my childhood, how it basically destroyed my family, " says the victim.

"What would I say to him?" "It's not what would I say to him it's what would I do to him because I feel like he shouldn't even be living on this earth."

The Department of Correction website shows Wilson has had 18 infractions while in prison.

One of those infractions was an assault on an inmate with sexual intent.

The victim says, "How can a person commit the same identical crime in prison and still they're going to justify and say he's got good behavior and they're going to release him on something so horrific that he did to a minor years ago."

The reason the 20 inmates are going to be released is because of convicted murderer Bobby Bowden.

He took on the 1974 North Carolina law which said life in prison was 80 years. Bowden felt with his time served and good behavior he did his time.

A recent North Carolina Supreme Court decision upheld a lower court's ruling, effectively agreeing with Bowden.

"I was in court and my mother was right there and I had to relive everything," the victim says.

Now the victim says, as she did when she was nine, she must relive everything once again.

On Monday, the victim tells WITN she will call Governor Bev Perdue's office to see what can be done to stop Wilson from getting out of prison.

Previous story below:

A cadre of murderers and rapists, several of whom victimized young girls, will be set free from North Carolina prisons this month after state courts agreed that a decades-old law defined life sentences as only 80 years long.

Dozens more inmates could be released in the coming months unless the state can figure out a legal recourse to keep them behind bars, officials said Thursday. Gov. Beverly Perdue called them "dangerous criminals" who have repeatedly been denied parole.

"I'm appalled that the state of North Carolina is being forced to release prisoners who have committed the most heinous of crimes, without any review of their cases," Perdue said in a statement.

Three of the prisoners on the list released by Governor Perdue's office are from Eastern Carolina.

Alford Jones is 55. He was convicted of first degree murder in Lenoir County for the 1975 murder of William Turner Sr. Turner was shot in the chest with a shotgun in an attempted robbery and died three weeks later.

Jones has had 11 infractions during his time in prison. The most recent was in 2006, for substance possession. Other infractions include fighting and assault on inmate with sex.

Faye Brown is 56. She was convicted of first degree murder in Martin County for the 1975 murder of a state trooper. Brown and two other suspects robbed a bank in Williamston, then shot Guy Davis while trying to get away. Brown has 20 years of federal parole to serve after she is released from prison.

Brown has had 27 infractions during her time behind bars. The most recent was in 2003 for profane language. Other infractions include disobeying orders, sexual act and verbal threat.

Steven Wilson is 52. He was convicted of kidnapping and first degree rape. He abducted and raped a 9-year-old girl in 1977.

Wilson has had 18 infractions during his time behind bars. The most recent one was in 2001 for substance possession. Other infractions include fighting, weapon possession and assault on inmate with sex.

The infraction information comes from the North Carolina Department of Corrections website.

So how did their possible releases come to be? One of the other 20 inmates on the list, Bobby Bowden, had argued that a law adopted in 1974 clearly defined life sentences as just 80 years.

The 60-year-old convicted murderer believed that the statute, combined with good conduct credits inmates accrue, means his life sentence is now complete.

The Court of Appeals sided with Bowden last year. North Carolina's Supreme Court rejected an appeal from the state earlier this month after a lawyer from the attorney general's office had argued that the 80-year figure was ambiguous and likely meant to determine when somebody would be eligible for parole.

Justices on the high court balked at that argument, and an attorney for Bowden called it "legal gymnastics." The statute, which was in place for several years in the 1970s, says: "A sentence of life imprisonment shall be considered as a sentence of imprisonment for a term of 80 years in the state's prison."

All but one of the inmates have been convicted of murder or rape. The 20th, 57-year-old Charles Lynch, was convicted of two counts of second-degree burglary and assault with intent to commit rape.

Thomas Bennett, executive director of the North Carolina Victim Assistance Network, said the plan to release the prisoners is dangerous.

"This is terrible. This is a disaster," he said. "This is another example of victims not receiving consideration in the way the system works."

The governor's office believes the state is forced to release the inmates on the 29th because of a standard response time of 20 days following a Supreme Court decision. Correction officials are in the process of notifying victims and local district attorneys about the development.

Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight, president of the North Carolina Sheriffs' Association, said communities will need to be careful.

"The law enforcement in the jurisdictions where they're being put back out need to have a watchful eye out," he said. "We hope (the inmates) are reformed, but we have to be on the lookout. You just don't know."

Bowden was convicted in 1975 of two Cumberland County killings and initially sentenced to death. The Supreme Court later took him off death row, sending the case back for Bowden to get concurrent life sentences. He has been denied parole every year since 1987.

Corrections officials have worried that the case could eventually affect some 120 inmates sentenced when the law was in place.

(Copyright 2009 by WITN and The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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