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NC inmates sentenced to life could be released

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MICHAEL BIESECKER
Associated Press

RALEIGH, NC (AP) -- The North Carolina Court of Appeals has ruled that a handful of inmates sentenced to life prison terms more than 30 years ago should be released because of a quirk in the law.

In a 2-1 decision, the ruling Tuesday applies to two men sentenced in the late 1970s to life terms for second-degree murder and second-degree burglary. But it could set the stage for the release of at least 13 other inmates with similar cases.

At the time, state law defined a life term as 80 years, but rules allowed for inmates to earn sentence reductions through classes or working while behind bars.

State lawyers argued the men should remain incarcerated until they die. The case is now likely to head to the North Carolina Supreme Court.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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