Offenders serving time for murder to be considered for parole
By Shavonne Potts
In a couple of years, a group of Rowan County offenders originally sentenced to life in prison for murder will be considered for parole, the N.C. Post Release Supervision and Parole Commission says.
The commission is reviewing the cases of Tonya Denise Menster Brown, Earl Douglas Stallings, Gabrill Monik Maxwell, Phillip Wesley Chambers and Willie Lee Hayes.
As part of its consideration, the commission also seeks comments from the public on any of the prisoners’ cases.
All of the offenders must “satisfactorily” complete the Mutual Agreement Parole Program, a scholastic and vocational program that includes a three-way agreement between the commission, the Division of Prisons and the offender.
The program is a form of parole, commission spokeswoman Patsy Joyner said.
“The commission sets a specific date by when the offender might possibly released,” she said.
Joyner said the parole program is particular in that it means offenders must meet strict requirements, including educational.
Here are summaries of the five cases:
– Earl Stallings, 37, will be paroled if he completes the parole program by Oct. 12.
Stallings, then 20, was one of four people convicted of second-degree murder in the 1990 drive-by shooting of James Michael Robinson, 22, who stood on the corner of West Bank and Partee streets.
According to police at the time of the shooting, Stallings and three teenagers, Gabrill Monik Maxwell, 17, Jerry Lamont Ellis, 18, and Claude Edward Knox III, 18, were in the car when the shots were fired.
The incident apparently stemmed from an argument between Ellis and Robinson about stolen drug money, the Post reported in 1990.
Stallings was convicted of second-degree murder and two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon. He was sentenced to 50 years. While awaiting trial for murder, Stallings was charged with robbing a video store and a Handy Pantry convenience store.
– Gabrill Maxwell, 35, was one of the other people in the car with Stallings when James Michael Robinson, 22, was shot.
Maxwell was enrolled in the parole program, but the agreement was terminated in March, Joyner said.
He is eligible for another review in February 2009.
Maxwell was also sentenced to 50 years for second-degree murder in Robinson’s drive-by shooting death.
Officers arrested Maxwell a few hours after the shooting, the Post reported at the time.
– Tonya Brown, 40, will be paroled if she completes the parole program by March 1, 2009.
In 1992, Brown, then 25, shot and killed her husband, Jack Brown, during an early morning domestic dispute. He died from a single gunshot to the head. Tonya Brown was an employee with the Piedmont Correctional Center at the time of the killing.
In 1993, Tonya Brown was sentenced to life in prison for second-degree murder.
News accounts at the time of the incident said Tonya Brown told authorities she shot her husband because she feared for her life. During her two-week trial, Brown testified her husband repeatedly abused her.
The morning of the shooting, the couple came home from a “local night spot.” Tonya Brown later told police her husband threatened to flatten her tires to prevent her from going to work the next morning.
She told police she shot him from three or four feet. However, according to trial testimony, medical and crime experts estimated Jack Brown was shot from about 6 inches away.
During the trial, co-workers and friends testified that Tonya fought with her husband on numerous occasions and once hit him with her car.
– Philip Chambers, 30, will be paroled if he completes the parole program by April 2, 2011.
Chambers was 16 when he was convicted in the suffocation death of his great-aunt, Naomi Chambers Toomer.
In 1994, Chambers; his brother, Mark Alexander Chambers, 17; and their sister, Amanda Corissa Chambers, who was 14 at the time, were charged with second-degree murder.
Trial testimony revealed Toomer was attacked inside her car as she sat in the driveway. Investigators testified the three siblings suffocated her with a plastic bag.
Testimony indicated Philip Chambers covered Toomer’s mouth and nose while his brother and sister held the 73-year-old woman. Then, they moved her body inside her home to disguise the manner of her death.
The teens took $13 from their aunt and attended a religious retreat later that night, according to court testimony.
Salisbury firefighters went to Toomer’s West Horah Street home and found her body after her sister could not get the 73-year-old to come to the door, news accounts said.
Chambers was sentenced to life in prison.
– Willie Hayes, 60, must complete the parole program successfully by March 19, 2010.
Hayes, then 42, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the June 1990 death of 33-year-old Harvey Leon Chalk. Hayes was initially charged with first-degree murder but reached a plea agreement with prosecutors.
News accounts at the time said Hayes and Chalk first argued at Oakview Trailer Park.
According to a Post article, after the argument, Chalk and his girlfriend left the trailer park, with Hayes following him. Hayes forced Chalk’s car off Old Union Church Road, shot him in the neck and beat Chalk’s girlfriend.
The parole board reviewed Hayes’ case a year ago.
The commission has the responsibility of paroling offenders who were convicted and sentenced under guidelines no longer in effect today. The state’s current sentencing law eliminates parole for people sentenced to life in prison since Oct. 1, 1994.
Any victims or other interested parties who want to be notified of changes in the status of any of the five inmates must register for notification with the commission. Once registered, a person will be automatically notified of any changes.
To register with the N.C. Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission, call the agency at 919-716-3010 or registered online at the N.C. Department of Correction Web site, www.doc. state.nc.us