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Lemuel Parrott

27-year-old Lemuel Parrott was convicted of robbery and first-degree murder and sentenced to death in Lenoir County, North Carolina, in 1947. His alleged accomplice, Sam Thompson, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to thirty years in prison. Parrott was exonerated the following year when Thompson provided an affidavit stating that Parrott did not commit the crime.

On the evening of January 31, 1947, 50-year-old Kenneth Taylor was slain while resisting robbery at the bakery where he worked in Kinston, North Carolina. Thompson’s second-degree murder conviction came when he confessed to having been Parrott’s accomplice in the murder of Taylor. On the basis of Thompson’s claims that Parrott had killed Taylor, the jury convicted Parrott at his trial.

On April 14, 1948, the North Carolina Supreme Court denied Parrott’s appeal, and Parrott was scheduled to die in the gas chamber on April 30, 1948. However, the week after Parrott’s appeal was denied, Thompson, who was serving his prison sentence, admitted that he had fabricated his original statement because the police had threatened him. He signed an affidavit stating that both he and Parrott had been in North Wilkesboro and Winston-Salem on the night of the crime, several hundred miles away. An investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation corroborated Thompson’s claim.

On April 22, 1948, Judge John J. Burney granted Parrott a new trial on the basis of Thompson’s affidavit, and Parrott was acquitted by the jury at his retrial on September 17, 1948. Despite the new evidence, Thompson’s conviction was permitted to stand. In July 1959, Thompson was paroled despite his perjury charge for false testimony because he had already spent so many years in prison.

- Researched by Carling Spelhaug

State:NC
County:Lenoir
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Reported Crime Date:1947
Convicted:1947
Exonerated:1948
Sentence:Death
Race:Don't Know
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:27
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct