RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday pardoned a man who spent 24 years behind bars for a murder he has long said he did not commit.
Dontae Sharpe has been out of prison since 2019 and the pardon allows him to apply for compensation of up to $750,000 for his wrongful conviction.
“Mr. Sharpe and others who have been wrongly convicted deserve to have that injustice fully and publicly acknowledged,” the governor said in a statement.
In 1995, Sharpe was given a life sentence at age 19 for the first-degree murder of 33-year-old George Radcliffe, whom he was accused of killing a year earlier during a drug deal. Sharpe had maintained his innocence throughout and said in a 2019 interview that his faith and knowledge he was innocent guided his refusal to accept offers of a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea.
I’m still in a haze kind of,” Sharpe said. “When you’re dealing with us human beings, it can go any way, yes and no. I didn’t know what to expect. I was believing for a pardon.”