11/01/09 — Murderer released on parole

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Murderer released on parole

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on November 1, 2009 1:50 AM

A Lillington man convicted of a 1991 murder near Grantham has been released on parole, state officials say.

Lionel Lamont Cox, now 37, was convicted in 1993 of the second-degree murder of James "Pop" Raynor, 68, who was found dead at his home of multiple gunshot wounds on Dec. 27, 1991.

Raynor lived a few miles south of Grantham, on U.S. 13 South.

Cox was released on parole on Oct. 16, and will remain on parole until at least 2014, according to N.C. Department of Correction records.

According to testimony during Cox's 1993 trial, Cox owed the murder victim money for drugs. He told authorities he feared that Raynor would kill him for the debt, according to testimony at the trial.

Cox surrendered to authorities more than a year later, on April 18, 1993.

The detective assigned to the case, George Raecher -- who would later become a captain overseeing the Sheriff's Office Drug Squad, among other things -- was the first to interview Cox when he turned himself in.

At the trial, Raecher testified that Cox feared for his life, because he owed Raynor money for drugs.

Raecher also testified that Cox admitted to taking $300 from Raynor after killing him, then disposing of the murder weapon somewhere along Interstate 95.

The murder weapon was never recovered.

Cox was defended by Goldsboro attorney Shelby D. Benton. Ms. Benton said she had no comment on Cox's parole status when reached for comment on Thursday.

Claud Ferguson, now an attorney with his own Goldsboro practice, was the assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case.

Ferguson did not return a phone call seeking comment on Cox's parole.

Patsy Joyner, administrator of the N.C. Parole Commission, said Cox's case is a relatively unique one, because he had applied for "MAPP," the now-defunct Mutual Agreement Parole Program.

Inmates who applied for the program, which featured scholastic and vocational elements, had to meet a number of requirements in exchange for a set release date.

Those requirements included having no major infractions within 90 days of applying for MAPP, being in medium- or minimum-security custody, and no pending charges or detainers, among other things, Mrs. Joyner said.

Although MAPP and other, older forms of parole have been abandoned in favor of "structured sentencing" laws in North Carolina, the N.C. Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission is still responsible for administering the older programs.

People convicted on or after Oct. 1, 1994, are subject to structured sentencing, but inmates convicted earlier must conform to the paroling rules in place at the time of their sentencing, Mrs. Joyner said.

Mrs. Joyner said that all potential parolees are subject to petitions by family members or other interested parties, who may request that an inmate stay in prison.

The parole administrator said that such petitions, or lack thereof, are not a matter of public record.