Lumberton, N.C. — The lawyer for a man convicted in the death of basketball superstar Michael Jordan's father will argue in court that his client should be resentenced so that he will be eligible for parole.
Larry Martin Demery plans to withdraw his guilty pleas relating to the shooting death of James Jordan and other crimes settled in separate cases, his lawyer, Hubert Rogers, said. That will allow Demery to be resentenced in a such a way that he would be eligible for parole 20 years from the sentencing date.
"It is necessary to set aside the guilty pleas in these two cases so that the defendant can effectively renegotiate a new plea agreement involving the consolidation of all charges," Rogers wrote in a court filing.
On May 21, 1995, Demery received a life sentence for Jordan's July 23, 1993, death. On Oct. 3, 1997, he got 40 years for a motel robbery and for the robbery and shooting of a clerk at a country store earlier in July 1993.
The judge imposing those sentences did not say if they should be served one after the other or together. The assumption under North Carolina law, then, is that a sentence for armed robberies should be concurrent with any others, Rogers said.
The law, however, also allowed the state Department of Correction some discretion, and the department chose to treat Demery's total sentence as life plus 40 years, Rogers said.
That made his client ineligible for parole or for other privileges such as jobs and possible transfers, Rogers said.
A series of court cases has since challenged the way the department handled court-ordered sentences, Rogers said.
The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled that inmates should withdraw their pleas and submit new pleas, consolidating all the charges into one case.
Demery plans to do that at his appearance in Robeson County Superior Court on Thursday, March 6, Rogers said. The process could be handled in a single hearing.
Demery pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, armed robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery in Jordan's death. He testified that his lifelong friend, Daniel Andre Green, pulled the trigger.
Green also received a life sentence.
Demery testified during both his and Green's trials that he watched Green fire a single .38-caliber bullet into Jordan. The elder Jordan had been sleeping in his red Lexus coupe alongside U.S. 74 near Lumberton.
During Demery's trial, Rogers said the initial plan during the Jordan robbery was to take the car, tie up the driver and leave him on a roadside where someone would find him alive. Demery was shocked when the man was killed and surprised later when he and Green found identification showing the dead man was the father of the famous basketball star, Rogers said.