Timothy L. Allen was saved from the execution chamber in 1997 when a federal appeals court upheld a lower court that stopped the execution because of an error in his original trial.
Allen was sentenced to death in 1985 for the killing of Trooper Raymond Worley during a traffic stop on Interstate 95 near Enfield.
The Halifax county jury deliberated about five hours before returning the life sentence.
Highway Patrol spokeswoman Renee Hoffman said the patrol was grateful that Allen will remain in prison.
Gerda Stein, a spokeswoman for the state Center for Death Penalty Litigation, said the verdict was "a clear sign that juries in North Carolina are becoming increasingly uneasy with the death penalty and how it's being applied."
Allen had received his last meal Dec. 12, 1997, when the appeals court stopped the execution.
The court said prosecutors used their peremptory challenges to keep 11 blacks off the jury panel. Those challenges allow lawyers to reject jurors without stating why. Allen's jury had six white and six blacks.
The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court before the resentencing, which upheld the resentencing in 2004. State lawyers argued the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made an error when it upheld the court that overturned Allen's death sentence.
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