Man who helped kill Michael Jordan's father to be paroled
Posted August 18, 2020 1:18 p.m. EDT
Updated August 18, 2020 7:52 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — One of the two men convicted in the murder of Michael Jordan's father almost 30 years ago will be released from prison in three years, state officials said Tuesday.
The state Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission issued a three-paragraph announcement that it has granted parole to Larry Demery. He will be released on Aug. 6, 2023, after completing an educational program designed to help him prepare for a return to society.
Demery had been denied parole in two previous hearings.
He and Daniel Green were convicted in 1996 and have been serving life sentences for the murder of James Jordan. They are eligible for parole because of the sentencing laws in effect at the time.
James Jordan disappeared on his way from a funeral in Wilmington to his home near Charlotte in July 1993, but his family did not immediately report him missing. A body was found in a swamp in South Carolina 11 days later, but it wasn’t identified as James Jordan until his Lexus was found abandoned and vandalized in some woods in Fayetteville almost two weeks later.
Because there was no identification, the body was cremated, but the coroner had saved the jaw and hands of the deceased and was able to make a positive identification after seeing news reports about James Jordan’s disappearance and connecting with investigators.
At the time, Michael Jordan was at the top of his game, having just won a third NBA championship with the Chicago Bulls. His close relationship with his father was well-documented, and many people believe the tragedy forced him into early retirement.
Demery testified against Green during the trial as part of a plea deal, pointing to Green as the shooter in the crime.
Green has maintained his innocence in the killing since his arrest and has been filing motions for years trying to get the case reviewed by the courts. He claims that Demery asked him to help dispose of James Jordan’s body but that he wasn't there when Jordan was killed.
The state presented evidence at trial that James Jordan was killed in his red Lexus as he napped along the side of an access road off U.S. Highway 74 in Lumberton near Interstate 95. Prosecutors say the motive was robbery.
Green admits to helping Demery dump the body off the Pea Bridge into Gum Swamp, just over the state line in McColl, S.C. The two men, who were 18 at the time, later rode around in the Lexus for several days, making calls from the car phone.
A Superior Court judge ruled in January that Green cannot get his case back in front of the court.
Green won’t be eligible for parole until October 2021.
Green's attorney, Chrstine Mumma, said that, despite what prosecutors said at the time, she believes Demery got a deal in return for his trial testimony, which is why he will be getting out of prison.
"I have no doubt that his testimony was false, that Daniel Green was not the shooter in this case," Mumma said. "I am 100 percent confident of that. But in addition, I have no doubt that Demery was told before the trial. 'If you testify to what we want you to say, we will sentence you at a reduced level.'"
Demery's trial attorney, Hugh Rogers, said his former client "has probably earned" parole.
"He's been there for, going on, 30 years," Rogers said, adding that he's optimistic Demery will adjust to life outside of prison.
Former Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt, who prosecuted Demery and Green, agreed that Demery deserves to be released. He said he believes Green also will eventually be paroled.