A three-judge panel convened in Wake County to hear the case of State vs. James Blackmon (Wake – 83 CRS 84695). In 1988, Blackmon entered an alford plea for the September 28, 1979, murder of Helena Payton. At the end of the hearing, the three-judge panel unanimously concluded that Blackmon had proven by clear and convincing evidence that he was innocent of second-degree murder.
James Blackmon is the 12th person exonerated as a result of investigation by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission. His case was heard by the Commission on November 14-16, 2018, and the Commission unanimously concluded that there was sufficient evidence of factual innocence to merit judicial review and the case was referred forward for a hearing before a three-judge panel. The Commission’s lead investigator on this case was Staff Attorney Julie Bridenstine.