WILMINGTON, N.C. – The Latest on the case of a man who says he was wrongly convicted of killing a woman when he was 15 (all times local):
A man who recanted his testimony against a friend convicted of murder apparently admitted that he lied to investigators after learning about another man who was wrongly convicted of a crime.
That revelation came during a hearing Monday to determine whether 43-year-old Johnny Small was wrongly convicted of killing a pet shop owner when he was 15 years old in 1988. Small's friend, David Bollinger, now says he lied when he testified Small shot a pet shop owner in the head at point-blank range.
The exonerated inmate, Dwayne Allen Dail, says Bollinger learned about his story in 2012. Dail was cleared by DNA evidence after the North Carolina Actual Innocence Commission took his case to court.
Bollinger reached out to the commission after hearing of Dail's case.
A man convicted of committing murder at age 15 is telling the victim's family he can only imagine their pain, but he says he didn't kill the pet shop owner 28 years ago.
Johnny Small testified Monday at a hearing that could lead to his release. A Superior Court judge will consider whether Small should have been convicted now that a childhood buddy recanted testimony accusing Small of killing Pam Dreher in 1988. An autopsy report indicated Dreher was shot in the head at point-blank range while she was lying down.
Judge W. Douglas Parsons is hearing the matter without a jury.
Small told Dreher's family from the witness stand he can only imagine what they've been through, but "I swear on my life I didn't do it."
State lawyer Sandra Wallace-Smith noted Small never claimed innocence in several written statements trying to get courts to re-examine his case.