District Attorney dismisses charges against Johnny Small

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) –  Johnny Small is now a free man.

Late this afternoon, the New Hanover County District Attorney decided to dismiss charges relating to the murder of Wilmington pet store owner, Pamela Dreher.

Dreher was killed in 1988.

Small was just a teenager when he was arrested for that crime. A jury found Small guilty of First Degree Murder and Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon.  Small spent more than 25 years in prison for murder, while continuing to deny his role in the crime.

A key witness in the trial came forward in 2012 saying he lied on the stand after a WPD detective threatened him with the death penalty.

Johnny Small returned to court in August.  After hearing several days worth of testimony, Judge Douglas Parsons ruled to vacate Johnny Small’s life sentence.  He was sent home on house arrest, while the District Attorney’s office determined whether to retry Small for murder.

District Attorney Ben David says the challenge of retrying a 28-year-old homicide where there is no physical evidence and where two material witnesses have been discredited by the Court prove to be too great to overcome.

David says his office conferred with Dreher’s family, which has been a part of the process leading to this decision.

This dismissal releases Small from house arrest.



Categories: Local, New Hanover

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