McCrory pardons wrongly convicted Chapel Hill man
Posted December 23, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory has granted a pardon of innocence to a Chapel Hill man who was convicted in a 1988 Greensboro slaying.
LaMonte Burton Armstrong, 63, served 16½ years in prison for a crime that McCrory says he didn't commit. The governor informed Armstrong of his decision by phone Monday.
Because of the proclamation, Armstrong is eligible to receive up to $750,000 to compensate for his wrongful conviction.
As detailed in a news release from the governor's office, Armstrong was convicted of first-degree murder by a Guilford County jury in 1995 for the 1988 slaying of North Carolina A&T State University professor Ernestine Compton at her Greensboro home.
Armstrong was implicated by an acquaintance, Charles Blackwell, who later became the state’s key witness against Armstrong. Police did not collect any physical evidence at the time that implicated Armstrong.
According to the governor's office, Blackwell recanted his testimony in the spring of 2010, saying that he testified to collect a Crime Stoppers reward and to avoid a lengthy prison sentence. Another witness against Armstrong recanted his testimony immediately after the trial.
In 2012, state investigators re-examined evidence in the case and found that a palm print matched another suspect. Superior Court Judge Joseph Turner then vacated Armstrong’s conviction and ordered him released pending a new trial.
The Guilford County District Attorney’s Office dropped all charges against Armstrong in March.
Armstrong now works for The Freedom House in Chapel Hill, an outpatient substance abuse treatment center, and is taking classes at Wake Technical Community College to become a certified substance abuse counselor.
According to McCrory, Armstrong had just finished working an overnight shift and was having breakfast with his son during their conversation Monday morning.
"Armstrong had one more request," according to the release. "A former high school and college basketball player, Armstrong invited the governor to shoot hoops and play a game of H-O-R-S-E."
According to the governor's office, McCrory accepted the invitation.