Bobby Earl Smith
made a deal with the district attorney. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Clayton police officer Ray Gilmore.
Smith was sentenced to life in prison, but sentencing laws at that time were not as tough. He was eligible for parole after just 10 years.
Last month, Smith was moved to a minimum security prison -- the last step before freedom.
"It was such a tragic death. It was uncalled for. It was a malicious, cold-blooded murder to walk up, shoot somebody twice in the head and kill him maliciously," said Mike Carraway, a family friend.
The victim's family said a flaw in the system could lead to Smith's release.
"This man should never be let out," said Rayvon Gilmore, the victim's father.
Gilmore has reason to worry about Smith's release. Two weeks ago, he received a letter saying Smith was moved to a minimum security prison and could eventually be eligible for work release.
"We were shocked. We couldn't believe that the system had advanced this man this far," he said.
"Because an offender is minimum custody -- I can't stress this enough -- it doesn't mean he's getting out," said Karen Taylor George, an advocate for crime victims.
Under the Crime Victim's Rights Act, families are notified when an offender moves to minimum security.
"It's really an opportunity for us to say this is where it's headed and you need to give us feedback. We need this information from you, it's time for you to prepare. It's time for us to get information from you to make good decisions," George said.
"I'm going to be worried about a lot of citizens, because this is a dangerous human being. I'm going to really be worried," Gilmore said.
Since the shooting, every sitting North Carolina governor and attorney general has written to the parole board asking that Smith not be released.
The parole board will review Smith's case again in August.