02/09/05 — Parole: Don't free this murderer — ever!

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Parole: Don't free this murderer — ever!

In October of 1984, a Wayne County jury found Garfield Noah Prevette guilty of first-degree murder and kidnapping.

It had been proven that he had beaten, bound, sexually mutilated and killed 61-year-old Goldie Jones in her Goldsboro home.

Ms. Jones had been working with Prevette, then 29, as a counselor in connection with her voluntary prison ministry.

Then-solicitor Donald Jacobs argued for the death penalty.

Eleven jurors agreed that Prevette should be executed. But one held out for life in prison. That was all it took to spare his life.

Judge Mary Pope sentenced Prevette to life in prison for murder, plus 40 years for kidnapping to begin at expiration of the life sentence.

That was in the days of what the system referred to as “fair sentencing.” Unlike under today’s Structured Sentencing law, Prevette’s “life” sentence could be satisfied in the eyes of the system in just 20 years.

And, as it turned out, in July of 1986, the Supreme Court struck down the kidnapping sentence.

As a consequence, Garfield Prevette is eligible for parole — now. Consideration is scheduled for July.

Had our system been crafted to protect innocent citizens, Goldie Jones would not have been murdered by Prevette 20 years ago.

By all rights, Prevette should have been in prison. Just six years prior to the slaying and sexual mutilation of Ms. Jones, Prevette had been sentenced to a “minimum” term of 12 years for assault to commit rape. He was out in five years and four months.

The year before that, he had been convicted twice for contributing to the delinquency of a minor and given six months on each count.

In 1974 he had been convicted for assault on a female in a case in which a 68-year-old woman suffered a broken neck.

In another case, he was charged in Winston-Salem with assaulting a 79-year-old woman.

Even in prison, Prevette has been a problem. Records show he has committed 13 “infractions” — including attempts to escape. There have been other convictions including indecent exposure, affrays, possession of controlled substances.

Details involved in the murder trial of Garfield Prevette were so gruesome that many were not reported in the News-Argus. Others were, including the fact that the victim had been sexually mutilated with scissors.

Eleven of the jurors who for weeks were exposed to evidence of the incredible cruelty and brutality of this monster felt that Garfield Noah Prevette should be put to death. It was Judge Pope’s full intention that he would spend the rest of his life in prison. And that assurance was given the public. Under today’s laws, Prevette would never leave prison.

But this year, if any two of the three members of the Parole Commission see fit, Garfield Noah Prevette, now only 50, could be a free man after they meet in July.

Those Parole Commission members are: Chairman Juanita Baker, Jewyl Dunn and Charles L. Mann Sr.

The address is: N.C. Parole Commission, 4222 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-4222.

Our court officials, legislators, county commissioners, City Council members, civic groups and private citizens should raise their voices demanding that Garfield Prevette remain behind bars for the rest of his life. And we must be mindful of the fact that this sadistic killer will be eligible for consideration every year.

Published in Editorials on February 9, 2005 9:48 AM