GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — A Pitt County man remains behind bars decades after he was arrested for a crime in Greenville he says he did not commit. WNCT has been following Dontae Sharpe’s story since 1994 when he was accused of murder. The North Carolina NAACP is asking Governor Roy Cooper to step in to free a man they say has already served a sentence he doesn’t deserve.
“The thing that stands out to me most is Dontae has not been willing to accept any type of plea bargain,” says Pitt County NAACP President Calvin Henderson. “He had declared his innocence. He has stood on it.”
The North Carolina NAACP, The Duke Law Innocence Project, and Sharpe’s family have been working since his arrest to prove his innocence. They say enough is enough.
“I’m kind of speechless to a degree, but it’s time to get him and have him free, set free,” says Sharpe’s mother, Sarah Sharpe. “That’s about all I want to say today is just, let’s get him free.”
“A man who has every right to be angry, a man who has every right to be bitter, meets you with a smile,” says Rev. William Barber with the North Carolina NAACP.
Barber and other supporters stopped in Johnston County Thursday before making their way to the state capital to urge the governor and Pitt County District Attorney Kimberly Robb to reconsider the sentence. Sharpe’s legal council hoping the former attorney general turned governor will closely consider the law and take swift action.
“We have done our best legal work, and it hasn’t worked,” says Sharpe’s legal council Theresa Newman. “It should have worked. It has worked in other cases.”
Along with the plea to leaders, more than 70,000 signatures were delivered to Raleigh Thursday. Supporters say they will keep fighting until Sharpe is free.
The governor and other leaders have yet to respond to the pleads.