Two long-held inmates were wrongly convicted, NC NAACP says

NAACP rally for Dontae Sharpe in Greenville. (WNCT)

The North Carolina NAACP says two inmates have been wrongfully convicted, and need to be set free.

The families of Dontae Sharpe and Kalvin Michael Smith, as well as the NAACP, walked to Governor Pat McCrory and Attorney General Roy Cooper’s offices Thursday morning. The families handed over letters asking for immediate action in their release.

Sharpe was sentenced to life in prison back in 1994 for the murder of George Radcliffe during a drug buy in Greenville. Smith is serving up to 29 years in prison in connection with the Dec. 9, 1995 assault on Jill Marker, an assistant store manager in Winston-Salem. The attack left Marker, who still requires 24-hour care, with severe brain injuries. Five-months pregnant at the time of the assault, Marker gave birth to a son while in a coma.

Despite their convictions, the NAACP and their families say both men have been wrongfully imprisoned for almost half of their lives.

“Constantly we teach our children not to go out and get in trouble, but very seldom do we tell them that trouble can come and find them. It has been very difficult,” said Augustus Dark, Smith’s father.

“I stand today, because I couldn’t live with myself knowing my son was innocent and not continue to fight,” said Sarah Blakely, Sharpe’s mother.

During the press conference Thursday morning, the NAACP also asked McCrory and Cooper to create task forces to help lower the number of innocent people being locked up.

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