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Dean Smith Seeking to Commute Sentence of Death Row Inmate

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RALEIGH — Former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith isn't talking to the press about his efforts to prevent the execution of a death row inmate.

After meeting with Governor Jim Hunt Thursday afternoon, Smith snuck out the back door of the capitol. He was asking Hunt to decrease the death sentence for John Noland Jr. He says each person in the state is responsible for the death of inmates who are executed.

The 50-year-old was sentenced to death for the 1982 murders of his father-in-law, Troy Milton, and sister-in-law, Cindy Milton, in Charlotte. Prosecuting Attorney David Maloney says Noland's crime was premeditated and brutal.

Governor Hunt has never commuted the sentence of a condemned killer.

Smith says he shouldn't be getting attention for this just because he's a celebrity. He says he's always been against the death penalty.

"He has a longstanding record of being against the death penalty. It's now possible for him to be active in some causes that were not possible for him when he was in the midst of his professional career," said Pastor Emeritus Robert Seymour.

Smith has maintained a correspondence with Noland ever since he met him while taking his players on tours of Central Prison.

But the man who prosecuted Noland for the 1982 murders also got to talk with the Governor, reminding him of the brutality of Noland's crimes.

"Troy Milton was shot between the eyes with a 44 Magnum pistol," said Maloney.

Smith actually visited Noland in his cell after learning Noland was a bigUNCfan and a fan of his.

Smith was backed up by People of Faith Against the Death Penalty.

Noland is scheduled to die Nov. 20.

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