Local News

New Law Could Lead To Parole For Convicted Killer

Posted December 6, 2005

— Norma Russell's family endures an annual ritual any family would dread. They relive her murder -- all to keep the killer in prison. But a new law could lead to a parole for him and other inmates just like him.

Russell was the kind of girl her family says everyone loved.

"She was the most beautiful girl inside and out," said her sister, Cheryl Russell. "Kindhearted, loved everybody, smiled all the time, charismatic."

David Mancuso was obsessed with Russell. When he could not have her, authorities said he shot and killed her as she sat in her car in the parking lot of Durham's Northern High School on Jan. 9, 1986. Police found a disturbing taped confession in Mancuso's truck when they arrested him 12 hours after Russell's death.

"I killed you. I killed Norma Russell and I'm happy about it," said the voice on the tape, which authorities said was Mancuso.

In August 1986, Mancuso was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. He became eligible for parole 10 years ago.

For a decade Russell's family has come to the parole board in Raleigh to fight Mancuso's release. This year they are more concerned than ever because a new law encourages the Parole Commission to release more offenders. It specifically addresses inmates who were convicted prior to 1994 when North Carolina's sentencing laws changed.

"We feel like this is going to make it a whole lot easier for him to get out," said Greer Clemmons, the victim's sister.

Mancuso has been in prison for almost 20 years. Russell's family fears that if he is released, he will kill again -- a threat he made himself in the taped confession.

"I'm going to go find women like you everywhere," the voice on the tape said. "I'm going to kill them so all the people like me don't have to worry about women like you."

The family also believes it's important for the parole commission to send a message to citizens that they won't sacrifice justice despite the new mandate.

"I don't see how you can ever have sense or a feeling that justice has been done when a person gets a life sentence but then is paroled and he's never said he's sorry," said Steve Russell, the victim's uncle.

WRAL was unable to contact anyone in Mancuso's family. At the time of the trial, however, his attorney said he was mentally ill and should not have been convicted.

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