Local News

McCrory pardons wrongly convicted Chapel Hill man

Posted December 23, 2013

— 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.

35 Comments

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  • silverballwiz Dec 26, 4:53 p.m.

    I am happy that you got justice. I know exactly what it feels like to be wrongfully convicted. I was convicted of something that I know, and the prosecution knew I did not do. All you have to do is read my website at www.falseconvictions.com and you will be shocked. The charge was Indecent Liberties with a Minor and I was charged with Intimidation of a Witness because the child accuser confessed to me. I had nothing to do with it. Check it out for a shocking story. Good Luck on your future and am very sorry you had to endure 16 years in prison. It has been very hard. I was in for about 14 months and it felt like an eternity. However, this has followed me for the last 23 years. I hope to get my name cleared as well so I can have my life back. I wish you the very best.

  • Ken D. Dec 24, 2:04 p.m.

    What this clearly demonstrates is that eyewitness testimony is the weakest, most unreliable form of evidence there is. Unfortunately, most jurors believe it is the most reliable - especially when the accused doesn't look like them.

  • wildpig777 Dec 24, 1:53 p.m.

    I still say the DA and the Judge should face major major actions when they botch a case. the citizens of nc ought to rise up against a judicial system that is corrupt and in need of reform from the outhouse to the courthouse and of course the courthouse is the most rotten of the two.

  • Nauti-dog Dec 24, 8:53 a.m.

    I am happy for this man and I hope he does get compensated. Although how can you put a price tag on that many years of freedom and this man's reputation.

    sunneyone2
    ------------------------------

    I agree with you on the happy for him part, but there has to be some kind of price tag put on it. I think it's terrible that anyone spend one day in prison if they're innocent but a blank check shouldn't be a possibility either.

  • tatermommy52 Dec 24, 8:52 a.m.

    After a $328,000 tax bite it will average out at $24,000.00 a year or about $12.00 an hour for a 8 hour day or about 2.70 per total hour spent behind bars.

  • Let-it-be-said Dec 24, 8:01 a.m.

    The DA didnt convict him, just prosecuted. The jury found him guilty. It is sad that this happened to him and I hope he lives a meaningful life with his family and friends.

  • lwe1967 Dec 23, 6:18 p.m.

    The Dems put the cap on the $750,00.00 under either Easely or Perdue, I think?

  • lwe1967 Dec 23, 6:17 p.m.

    I wish him well. They need to prosecute Blackwell for perjury if he is still alive.

  • Minarchist Dec 23, 4:43 p.m.

    Take him some cookies. Everything will be fine.

  • williamraleigh Dec 23, 4:28 p.m.

    $750,000 for 17 years of someone's life? did i misread something there..?

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