RALEIGH, N.C. — In a few days, a convicted killer will walk out of prison a free man. He has only served 10 years, but he would have served most of his life in prison had he committed his crime just a week later.
Howard Washington's life is about to change. He has spent 10 years in prison, and now he is getting out.
"My life has been prison," he said.
Washington was convicted of killing Henry Coates in September 1994 in Benson. One week later, North Carolina enacted a law eliminating parole for crimes like Washington committed.
Mel Chilton, of the Victim Assistance Network, said he is concerned about Washington's potential release because of his record of violence.
"He has a record of 45 infractions [in prison]," she said. "I think that he will be a more dangerous person as he is released from prison than he was when he went in."
Washington, who was only 15 years old when he committed the murder, said he thinks about the murder every day. His days in prison are almost up to his delight and others' regret.
"This is a very sad circumstance and a very dangerous circumstance for the public," Chilton said.
"I know that I'm a changed person compared to what I was before I came to prison," Washington said.
Washington will be released Jan. 25. While Washington has served 10 years for murder,
has served 33 years for stealing a television. Attorneys said they are trying to get him released, saying his punishment, in no way, fits the crime.