07/06/05 — Irwin up for parole in July

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Irwin up for parole in July

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on July 6, 2005 1:45 PM

An Ohio man convicted of the 1979 murder of a Fremont pharmacist will have his case reviewed later this month by the N.C. Parole Commission.

The commission is expected to decide by July 23 whether to order an investigation for parole for Lavern Ray Irwin, now 54 and an inmate at Hyde Correctional Institute, a medium-security prison in Swan Quarter.

Irwin has been eligible for parole since 1990 and has been reviewed annually since then, a commission spokeswoman said Tuesday. The commission's hearing will be closed to the public.

Irwin, of Beloit, Ohio, and two other Ohio men attempted to rob the Fremont Pharmacy on Nov. 7, 1979, during which pharmacist Jesse Stewart was shot with a .357 Magnum and killed.

In September 1980, Irwin was convicted in Wayne County Superior Court of first-degree murder, kidnapping and attempted armed robbery shooting. He was sentenced to death on the murder charge, but on appeal, that sentence was converted to life in prison.

Irwin's conspirators, both convicted of second-degree murder, have already been released.

Michael Richard Harvey, now 47, who cooperated with prosecutors, was sentenced in 1980 to 12-27 years in prison but was paroled in 1990. The N.C. Department of Correction is no longer tracking his location.

Larry Joseph Collen, now 55, was sentenced in 1980 to life in prison but was paroled in February. He has since moved back to Ohio.