Rowan man convicted 26 years ago expected to be paroled in 2018

Published 2:05 pm Wednesday, October 12, 2016

By Shavonne Walker

ROWAN COUNTY — A Rowan County man convicted 26 years ago to life in prison for armed robbery and for being a habitual felon is expected to be released in two years, according to the state parole commission.

Richard Dwight Small Jr., now 59, was convicted Sept. 12, 1990, after he also pleaded guilty to robbing the Rockwell Food Lion. At the time, Small had been convicted of more than three previous felonies.

The N.C. Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission approved the case for parole. He’s being paroled through the Mutual Agreement Parole Program (MAPP). This program is a scholastic and vocational program that is a three-way agreement between the Commission, the Division of Prisons and the offender. Under this agreement, Small’s parole release date has been set for Oct. 5, 2018.

In 1990, investigators said Small went into the store a forced a clerk to take $41,000 from the store’s safe. During the robbery, he fired a shot at the safe, sending fragments flying into the clerks’ arms and face. Two store customers chased Small when he ran from the store.

Small fired a shot before he was tackled by the customers. He had a number of convictions from 1975 to 1983, ranging from breaking and entering, escaping from a minimum security prison to armed robbery. He climbed over a wall at a Carteret County facility, but was found in Rowan County, a nearly five-hour drive.

Small was charged in 1982 with the robbery of a blind shop owner in Gold Hill, but those charges were later dropped when another man confessed to the crime. During the same year, Small was charged along with two others for the murder of a 72-year-old man at his Salisbury home.

A man who was on death row in 1983 for two other killings confessed to killing the man, absolving Small and a third person of the crime.

In 2011, Small was being reviewed for parole in the same agreement parole program, but was denied.

The state’s current sentencing law, Structured Sentencing, eliminates parole for crimes committed on or after Oct. 1, 1994. However, the Commission has the responsibility of paroling offenders who were sentenced under previous sentencing guidelines.

Anyone who has questions regarding this matter can contact the Commission at 919- 716–3010.