GREENSBORO, NC (WGHP) – Three inmates from the Piedmont Triad – all of them serving life sentences for second-degree murder, one of which was upheld by the North Carolina Supreme Court – are going to be paroled after serving decades in prison.

The North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission, which for months has been announcing it was releasing some inmates convicted of crimes that occurred before October 1994, announced the three on Friday, but none of them will walk out of prison before 2024.

Calvin Brown (NC DOC)

All three are being released under the commission’s Mutual Agreement Parole Program, a “scholastic and vocational program” that is a 3-way agreement among the commission, the Division of Prisons and the offender that requires an inmate to display a desire to improve education and training programs as part of a self-improvement process.

Two of these men were convicted in Forsyth County and one in Surry County for crimes dating back to the 1980s. They are:

William D. Joyce (NC DOC)
  • Calvin Brown, 57, pleaded guilty in January 1984 in Forsyth County Superior Court to second-degree murder and was sentenced to life plus a consecutive 2 years for receiving a stolen vehicle. He had appealed his life sentence.
  • William D. Joyce, 57, was convicted in April 1989 in Surry County Superior Court of second-degree murder, which earned him a life sentence along with 40 consecutive years for robbery with a dangerous weapon and larceny of more than $200 that were dated Sept. 11, 1985.
  • Harris N. Jones, 47, was convicted in January 1995 in Forsyth County Superior Court of second-degree murder, which earned a life sentence, plus a consecutive 40-year sentence for robbery with a dangerous weapon and two 40-year concurrent sentences for two counts of the same charge. All of those occurred on Feb. 28, 1994, which is how he qualifies for parole under the 1994 review.
Harris N. Jones (NC DOC)

North Carolina abolished parole in cases involving murder and rape as of Oct. 1, 1994, and the commission is charged with considering the parole of offenders who were sentenced under guidelines before that date. The commission sometimes seeks public comment on whether that parole should be granted. Sometimes parole is denied after review.

Appeal to state Supreme Court

Brown’s case is different because he appealed his sentence despite the guilty plea, saying the judge had erred in sentencing him to life by citing “aggravating factors.” Brown’s attorney, E. Vernon F. Glenn, argued that Brown had admitted to the crime early in the investigation, “played a minor role in the commission of the offense” and that he has been “a person of good character or good reputation in the community.”

In an opinion filed on Nov. 5, 1985, the N.C. Supreme Court held that the trial court had acted properly and that the facts supported the sentence.

Based on court documents, Brown and co-defendant Willie Lilly had lured victim David Shelton to the bedroom of Lilly’s home sometime in late February 1988. There, at gunpoint, they tied him to a bedpost and stuffed into his mouth a towel, which they knotted behind his head.

They later used a grocery cart to take him to the basement, where they stood him on his head with his face against the dirt floor. He died of suffocation but also had been beaten, investigators found.

Brown and Lilly were arrested about two weeks later for driving a stolen vehicle, and investigators traced them to Shelton. Brown at first denied knowing Shelton but then gave a statement, the documents said.

Release dates

Lilly already has been paroled. He was released on July 14, 2006, after serving 22 years and 6 months of his life sentence that included 2 years for his consecutive sentence for breaking and entering a vehicle. It’s unclear what led to his release.

Joyce was sentenced to life for committing the murder and robbery on March 29, 1988. He had served about nine months of a 2-year sentence in 1986 for larceny of more than $200, a misdemeanor. He was 20 at the time of his first conviction. He is scheduled to be released on Nov. 4, 2024.

Jones had no prior convictions, and there is no information about his murder charge. He and Brown are scheduled to be released on May 3, 2024.

MAPP program

There is a 3-year walk-up to release that, the MAPP website states, requires the inmate:

  • To be in medium or minimum custody.
  • Not to be subject to a detainer or pending court action that could result in further confinement.
  • To be infraction-free for a period of 90 days before being recommended.

Brown, currently housed at the Rutherford Correctional Center in Spindale, has 17 recorded infractions, but none since 2015, when he was charged with fighting with a weapon. Most of the infractions were for profane language, disobeying orders and sexual acts.

Joyce, currently housed at Davidson Correctional Center in Lexington, has had 24 infractions, but none since 2011. The most serious were substance possessions (six of them) and unauthorized leave (twice in 1995), although he is not cited for having tried to escape.

Jones, who also is housed at the Davidson Correctional Center, has had eight infractions but none since 2009. Most have been for substance possession.

Questions?

The commission advises that if you have questions about these paroles, you can call 919-716–3010.