Jordan's Father's Killer Up for Parole in 2016
Posted March 6, 2008 5:51 a.m. EST
Updated March 6, 2008 7:12 p.m. EST
Lumberton, N.C. — One of the men convicted of killing basketball superstar Michael Jordan's father 15 years ago will be eligible for parole in 2016.
Larry Demery, 32, withdrew his guilty pleas in James Jordan's slaying and several unrelated robberies and re-entered them during a Thursday afternoon court hearing. Superior Court Judge Gary Locklear handed down a new sentence that called for all prison terms to be served concurrently.
"You're not getting anything based on good conduct in prison or anything else," Locklear told Demery. "This is what you should have gotten the day you were sentenced originally."
In July 1993, Demery and Daniel Green shot Jordan in the chest after finding him in his car along a Robeson County road. They stole his car and dumped his body in a swamp.
Demery pleaded guilty to the murder and a string of other robberies as part of a deal worked out with prosecutors. Under the plea agreement, the 40-year sentence for the robberies was supposed to be served at the same time as the life sentence on the murder plea, defense attorney Hugh Rogers said.
The concurrent sentences would have made Demery eligible for parole after 20 years.
The Department of Correction maintains that the Fair Sentencing Act, which was in effect at that time, required a sentence for armed robbery to run consecutive to any other sentence, department spokesman Keith Acree said.
Because prison officials were treating the sentences as consecutive, Demery's chance at parole was being delayed unfairly, Rogers said.
Rogers and Robeson County District Attorney Johnson Britt said the Department of Correction acted unilaterally in following those sentencing guidelines. The terms of the plea agreement should have superseded the Fair Sentencing Act, they said.
“Mr. Demery filled his end of the bargain,” Britt said, noting that Demery testified against Green in his 1996 trial.
“I think that the court and Mr. Britt and myself were all on the same page when we left the building, thinking in fact it was going to be a concurrent sentence, and it turned out it was not,” Rogers said.
"This is really what we were trying to accomplish is getting him closer to his time for parole, closer to the time when he may be able to get jobs outside the prison," he said, adding that he has another client in a similar situation.
The consecutive sentences would have forced Demery, who has incurred 14 infractions in prison and is being held in medium security, to spend more time behind bars than Green, the man Demery said fired the shot that killed James Jordan.
Green has made claims from prison that he wasn't involved in the murder of James Jordan, and he has been working on an appeal. He has incurred 62 infractions in prison and is being held in close custody with few privileges.