State commission approves parole for man convicted in the 1990s Food Lion robbery

Published 7:14 pm Wednesday, August 22, 2018

By Shavonne Walker

SALISBURY — The N.C. Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission has approved parole for a man sentenced in 1990 to life in prison for armed robbery and being a habitual felon.

In an Aug. 22 letter, the commission said it approved the case through the Mutual Agreement Parole Program, a scholastic and vocational program that is a three-way agreement among the commission, the N.C. Division of Prisons and the offender.

Richard Dwight Small, 61, has a parole release date of Oct. 5.

Small was convicted in September 1990 of robbing a Food Lion grocery store in Rockwell and injuring a clerk when he fired a gun into the safe. According to a 1990 Post article, Small was convicted of being a habitual felon because he had been convicted of more than three previous felonies.

Small is said to have forced the Food Lion clerk to take $41,000 from the store’s safe. He told her to put the money in a paper bag instead of plastic.

During the robbery, he fired his gun at the safe, and fragments from the safe injured the clerk on the arms and face.

Two customers who witnessed the robbery chased and tackled Small. Before he was apprehended, Small fired his handgun at the men.

Small has previous conviction for breaking and entering and larceny of rifles in 1975. In 1976, Small was charged with escape from a prison and was sentenced to an additional six months. He also has convictions for driving while impaired and simple possession of marijuana.

He was convicted in 1983 of armed robbery and possession of drug paraphernalia. He released just a few days before the Food Lion robbery.

He was convicted of escaping from prison in 1990.

Small had a parole review in May 2010, but his release was denied.

In 1982, Small and two others were charged in the murder of a blind Gold Hill man at Voncannon’s Grocery. A year later, the charges were dropped against Small after on of the other men confessed to the killing.

The state’s current sentencing law eliminates parole for crimes committed on or after Oct. 1, 1994.  However, the commission has the authority to parole offenders who were sentenced under previous sentencing guidelines.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.