01/01/13 — Pace up for parole after 1985 murder

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Pace up for parole after 1985 murder

By John Joyce
Published in News on January 1, 2013 1:46 PM

The N.C. Post Release Supervision and Parole Commission announced Monday the possibility of parole for a Goldsboro man convicted of second-degree murder in 1986.

Originally charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of James Smith Jr. in March 1985, Randy L. Pace, 48, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

State sentencing laws stipulate that convicted felons sentenced prior to 1994 are subject to parole eligibility as it was structured before Oct. 1 of that year.

Under the Mutual Agreement Parole Program (MAPP,) a three-way agreement between the Commission, the Division of Prisons and the offender could potentially be reached that would mean parole for Pace.

Information from parties both for and against his parole, as well as the facts of the case, will be reviewed by the commission before a decision is reached.

Wayne County court documents show that Pace, defended by longtime Wayne County attorney Michael A. Ellis, pleaded guilty to the lesser charge after autopsy results indicated that Smith died from severe lacerations to the head before his house was torched.

Police found Smith's body inside his home at 112 N. Daisy St. after the fire was contained. No mention was made as to the motive of the crime.

No date has been set for a parole hearing or proceeding of any kind regarding Pace's possible release, but the commission is required to review cases of all offenders eligible for parole on an annual basis.

Pace has incurred 34 infractions while incarcerated, including 11 for possession of controlled substances and one for unauthorized leave. He has been transferred at least three times, including a stint at Wake Correctional Center in Wake County, and is currently being housed at Tillery Correctional Center in Halifax County.