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North Carolina man's sentence commuted 11 years early, 4 granted pardons by Gov. Roy Cooper

RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) — Five North Carolinians will soon be able to put their pasts behind them as North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper commuted a convict’s sentence and granted four pardons of forgiveness.

On Wednesday, Cooper’s office announced that he was commuting the sentence of Darnell Cherry to time served, granting his release more than a decade earlier than his projected January 2035 release date. He also granted pardons forgiving Portia Bright-Pittman, W. Samuel Fagg, Tramayne Hinton and Flemming Ragas.

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Cooper’s office says the decision was made after “an intensive review of cases.” The Juvenile Sentence Review Board, which Cooper signed into existence in 2021, recommended that the governor commute Cherry’s sentence, and the Office of Executive Clemency and the Office of General Counsel, in addition to the governor, reviewed the clemency actions before the decisions were finalized.

“Ensuring careful review of cases while taking executive clemency action is a responsibility I take seriously,” Cooper said in a statement. “We carefully consider recommendations made by the Juvenile Sentence Review Board to commute sentences for crimes committed by minors. All of these individuals are deserving of clemency and we will continue to work to protect our communities and improve the fairness of our criminal justice system.”

Cherry, 42, was convicted in two robberies, as well as the murder of Robert Earl Edwards Jr. and the shooting of Sonja Williams, for crimes he committed in Bertie County when he was 16. He was given four consecutive sentences; he finished his first in January 2014 and his second in September 2021 but would face about 11 more years behind bars if not for this commutation. While incarcerated, the state says Cherry has been “consistently employed and has participated in learning programs, including obtaining his G.E.D. and trade qualifications.”

Bright-Pittman, 38, was convicted of accessory after the fact to armed robbery for a crime she committed in Orange County when she was 22. She received a suspended sentence of 24 months probation. Since then, Bright-Pittman has spent “many years” working in state government.

Fagg, 43, was convicted of possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine for a crime he committed in Wake County when he was 21. He received a suspended sentence of 24 months probation with a special condition that he serve an active sentence of 30 days. Since then, Fagg has obtained a master’s degree and a PhD. He studies regenerative medicine.

Hinton, 42, was convicted of robbery for a crime he committed in Perquimans County when he was 16. He received a suspended sentence of 36 months probation. Since then, he has completed high school and has worked in sales and marketing. He also owns his own business.

Ragas, 45, was convicted of breaking and entering, larceny and possession of stolen goods for crimes committed in Lee and Cumberland counties when he was 20. He received a suspended sentence of 18 months probation. Ragas served in the United States Army and National Guard, earning a Bronze Star and Meritorious Service Medal during his service.

Source: Fox 8 News Channel

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