Local News

Victim relieved by delay to inmate releases

Posted October 29, 2009
Updated November 19, 2009

— Tanya Yearwood, of Kinston, was 9 when she was kidnapped and raped by Stephen C. Wilson. She thought the worst was behind her, until she learned Wilson might be released from prison.

Wilson, convicted in 1978 of kidnapping and first-degree rape, lured Yearwood into his car by telling her that her sister wanted to talk to her. He was sentenced to life in prison, but because of a glitch in state law he may be released.

“The man who assaulted me was never supposed to get out,” Yearwood said Thursday.

WRAL News does not normally identify the victims of sexual assaults, but Yearwood wanted to tell her story and requested her name be used.

Wilson and 26 other inmates were scheduled to be released Oct. 29 after state courts agreed with one of the inmates, double murderer Bobby Bowden, that a 1970s law defined a life sentence as 80 years.

The 1981 Fair Sentencing Act included a retroactive provision essentially cutting all those sentences in half, and good behavior and other credits have shortened the sentences to the point that they are now complete.

Gov. Bev Perdue has ordered Department of Correction officials not to release any of the inmates, and DOC spokesman Keith Acree said this week there are no immediate plans to do so.

Last week, Yearwood got a call from the governor's office saying Wilson and the other inmates are staying behind bars for now.

“That was the first night I actually had a good night’s sleep,” Yearwood said.

Yearwood, now 44, testified against Wilson and is fearful that if he is released, he might come after her.

“I'm probably number one on this man's list,” she said.

While the releases are on hold, the state is looking into other ways to keep those inmates in prison. In Wilson's case, that could include the possibility of new charges.

Wilson was accused of assaulting another young girl in the early 1990s while he was out on work release.  He was transferred to a more secure facility but was never charged with an additional crime.

“I know they have people that go for prisoners rights, but has anyone ever thought about the victim's rights?” Yearwood said.

Yearwood is relieved for the moment but worries it won't last.

“I still have to face the reality that there still could be a possible chance that they do get out,” she said.

13 Comments

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  • familyfour Oct 30, 5:58 p.m.

    I agree.

    Good behavior early releases are not making good citizens....they can be great in jail, but they still make for a sorry individual when you put them in the real world.

  • Professor Oct 30, 4:30 p.m.

    HAVE A VERY SAFE HALLOWEEN TOMORROW NIGHT. BE WITH YOUR CHILDREN AT ALL TIMES. DON'T ALLOW THEM TO GO TO A HOME WITH NO OUTSIDE DOOR LIGHT. NO EATING ANY CANDY OR ANYTHING, UNTIL YOU GET BACK HOME AND THE PARENTS CHECK EVERYTHING OUT. DON'T EVER GO TO A STRANGER'S HOME. HAVE SAFE COMFORTABLE COSTUMES. BE WITH YOUR CHILD AT EVERY MOVE. BE SAFE!

  • Professor Oct 30, 4:07 p.m.

    and is fearful that if he is released, he may come after her.

    This young lady needs serious counseling. She should not have to walk this earth being constantly afraid. Why is her parents not doing something about that? Do they not even care. But I don't believe the man will bother her.

    I am waiting to see what the Supreme Court will do in this matter. I am learning Gov. Purdue can go but so far. This is an interesting story that I am not sure myself how it will turn out. I just know there is a law, and the law is the law.

    Pray for this young lady that she will have brighter and happy days ahead.

  • didisaythat Oct 30, 3:32 p.m.

    She said it best....I know there are people fighting for the rights of prisoners but what about the victims...Sorry...NAACP no I think they are for the bad guys. The Liberals...are you kidding...look at all those potential votes. The media...are you kidding...look at the ratings. No it's just Smith and Wesson and the Constitution, if the libs don't change it.

  • sssh.. whisper Oct 30, 1:38 p.m.

    There should not be a "good behavior" early release. Prisoners are sentenced these sentences as a punishment! Acting good (that's what they are doing ACTING)should be able to put them on the streets sooner.

    My prayers are with the victim and to all victims of heinous crimes as such

  • HowManyOunces Oct 30, 1:25 p.m.

    "If not, then lawmakers and judges learn from this lesson."

    At the victim's and public's expense.

  • djcgriffin Oct 30, 1:02 p.m.

    I pray for this woman and her family that she remains strong as she has been all these years.

    With that said, the law must be follow as it was written. If that means that the convicted remain in jail, so be it. If not, then lawmakers and judges learn from this lesson.

  • familyfour Oct 30, 12:25 p.m.

    Wilson was accused of assaulting another young girl in the early 1990s while he was out on work release. He was transferred to a more secure facility, but never charged with an additional crime.

    OMG!

    I swear....if these people we have in office let them out....I will be forced to change political affiliations forever.

    The rights of the offenders have finally outweighed those of the victims....way to go USofA.....way to go.

    pfft.

  • rcrdngcountry Oct 30, 10:44 a.m.

    don't ever believe life in prision, in a case that deserves it,
    go for the death penalty. some smart lawer will work out some
    thing to get cold blooded killers out. i believe they call them
    crooked lawers.

  • Here kitty kitty Oct 30, 10:04 a.m.

    This woman is living breathing proof that these people should not be released. I was assaulted (but not raped) as a teen some 40 years ago and I still remember it like it was yesterday. Keep them in jail.

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