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D.A. opposes parole for Onslow County man given life sentence

Published: Apr. 14, 2022 at 12:20 PM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - An Eastern Carolina district attorney says he opposes the release of a man convicted of murder 25 years ago.

James Hill was the owner of a bar near Maple Hill in Onslow County when he was found guilty of killing a customer who was asked to leave.

District Attorney Ernie Lee prosecuted the case when he was an assistant D.A. Hill received life without parole for killing Normal Watkins.

Lee said it was a senseless act of violence. “The victim was in essence executive by the defendant,” Lee told the Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission in opposing Hill being granted parole.

The D.A. said already Superior Judge Charles Henry reviewed the conviction and last month refused to recommend Smith be considered for parole.

Lee noted that Hill had a previous conviction for attempted murder and the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Hill’s trial happened in 1996 and his conviction falls in a window that allows a person given a life without parole sentence to have a review after serving 25 years. That law was changed in 2014, meaning a person now given life without parole has no chance of release.

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