Wilmington man convicted of murder seeks freedom after decades in prison

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — In Wilmington, one lawyer compared it to “Making a Murderer” in opening statements today. A man convicted of killing a woman back in the late 1980’s is trying to get that ruling overturned.

Johnny Small was just a teenager when a jury found him guilty of murdering Pamela Dreher. He received a sentence of life in prison plus 14 years.

For nearly 30 years, Small has remained in prison, however he has always maintained his innocence. He continued that today in the courtroom for the first day of his hearing to overturn the ruling. Small said he had tried to get parole a number of times and had all but given up hope of ever leaving prison.

That is until his former best friend and a key witness in the original trial came forward saying that he lied on the stand. David Bollinger said that a detective forced him to testify against Small. Bollinger said the detective threatened him with the death penalty if he did not do as he was told.

Bollinger said he was only 19 years old and scared for his life at the time of the first trial. He said now he feels he needs to come forward and do the right thing.

The hearing is expected to last all week.

Categories: Local, New Hanover, News

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