Gov. Pat McCrory gave a pardon of innocence today to a man wrongly convicted of a 1988 slaying in Greensboro.
LaMonte Burton Armstrong, now 63 and living in Chapel Hill, had been released from prison in 2012 after a key witness recanted testimony that falsely linked Armstrong to the killing of Ernestine Compton, a professor at N.C. A & T.
The governor informed LaMonte Burton Armstrong of the pardon in a phone call today, according to a news release from the governor’s office.
McCrory’s pardon will mean Armstrong is eligible for compensation for the 16-plus years he spent in prison.
From WRAL’s story:
As detailed in a news release from the governor’s office, Armstrong was convicted of first-degree murder by a Guilford County jury in 1995 for the 1988 slaying of North Carolina A&T State University professor Ernestine Compton at her Greensboro home.
Armstrong was implicated by an acquaintance, Charles Blackwell, who later became the State’s key witness against Armstrong. Police did not collect any physical evidence at the time that implicated Armstrong.
According to the governor’s office, Blackwell recanted his testimony in the spring of 2010, saying that he testified in order to collect a Crime Stoppers reward and to avoid a lengthy prison sentence. Another witness against Armstrong recanted his testimony immediately after the trial.
In 2012, state investigators reexamined evidence in the case and found that a palm print matched another suspect. Superior Court Judge Joseph Turner then vacated Armstrong’s conviction and ordered him released pending a new trial.
The District Attorney’s Office dropped all charges against Armstrong in March.
Armstrong now works for The Freedom House in Chapel Hill, an outpatient substance abuse treatment center. He is taking classes at Wake Technical Community College to become a certified substance abuse counselor.
According to McCrory, Armstrong had just finished working an overnight shift and was having breakfast with his son during their conversation Monday morning.
“Armstrong had one more request,” according to the release. “A former high school and college basketball player, Armstrong invited the governor to shoot hoops and play a game of H-O-R-S-E.”
According to the governor’s office, McCrory accepted the invitation.