An inmate convicted for murdering his girlfriend in Stanfield in 1989 may be released from prison thanks to a new program designed to ease overcrowding in North Carolina jails.

Avery L. Lee Jr., 37, formerly of Cabarrus Street, Stanfield, has been selected as a possible recipient for release through the North Carolina Post Release Supervision and Parole Commission’s Muutal Agreement Parole Program (MAPP).

Karen Pardue, senior parole case analyst, said Lee, serving a life term for second degree murder, is being considered for the release program.

Lee was convicted of second-degree murder in the 1989 shooting death of Gwendolyn Warf Smith, 31, who had moved with him to Stanfield three weeks before the shooting.

According to court documents, Smith was shot in the head around midnight Feb. 1, 1989 when Lee allegedly killed her because she was threatening to leave. Lee, an out-of-work carpenter at the time, told police he was playing with the gun after a night of drinking and drug use and the shooting was accidental.

According to court documents, Smith and Lee moved to Stanfield from Pikesville, Ky., after she was fired from Mountain Rehabilitation Center for allegedly becoming romatically involved with Lee, a patient.

MAPP is a scholastic and vocational progream that is a three-way agreement between the commission, the Division of Prisons and the offender.

The commission is seeking any input from the public on the possible release of Lee.

“Imformation gathered during the investigation from persons for or against parole of (Lee) as well as facts of the case, will be considered by the commission in making its decision,” he said.

The state’s current sentencing law, Structured Sentencing, eliminates parole for crimes committed on or after Oct. 1, 1994.

For more information on how to comment on Lee’s release, call Pardue at (919) 716-3010.

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