A former Eastern Carolina police chief who was sentenced to life in prison for murder is now a free man.
The Department of Correction says George Hayden was released from prison just after midnight Friday. Hours earlier the North Carolina Supreme Court decided not to hear the Attorney General's appeal of his conviction being overturned.
Hayden was released from the Marion Correctional Institution at 12:04 a.m. Saturday and the D.O.C. website says his current location is Beaufort County.
Hayden was fired as Belhaven's police chief on an unrelated matter six months before he was arrested for murder. An Onslow County jury convicted Hayden with the first degree murder of Bill Miller. Prosecutors say in 1972 Hayden killed the Marine because of a love triangle. After Miller's death, Hayden married Miller's wife.
Hayden had also been police chief in Cape Carteret.
Hayden’s police certification has been inactive since Belhaven fired him in March 2008. A spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office says Hayden would have to meet training requirements in order to become re-certified, and the Criminal Justice Training & Standards Commission would look at the facts of the case to evaluate his eligibility for certification.
The State Department of Correction says a former police chief convicted of murder should be released from prison this weekend.
A North Carolina Supreme Court decision puts into motion the release of George Hayden, former police chief of Belhaven.
Hayden was found guilty last year in Onslow County for the 1972 murder of William Miller. But that conviction was overturned this summer by the State Court of Appeals, and now the state's highest court has refused to hear an appeal by the Attorney General.
Hayden's former attorney says that means he should soon be released from state prison. DOC spokesman Keith Acree tells WITN News that they have the paperwork and Hayden should be released this weekend. He is currently imprisoned at the Marion Correctional Institution in the western part of the state.
Hayden was dismissed in an unrelated matter as chief of Belhaven six months before his October 2008 arrest for Miller's murder. He had also been chief at Cape Carteret.
Prosecutors had claimed Hayden was involved in a love triangle with Miller's wife, whom he married after the Marine's death.