Innocence Inquiry Commission Holds Hearing

On October 1-5, 2018, the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission held a hearing in State vs. Wallace Brandon Jones (Washington – 94 CRS 1973; 95 CRS 1965) and State vs. Leroy Spruill (Washington – 94 CRS 1566; 94 CRS 1984). Mr. Jones and Mr. Spruill were convicted for the December 18, 1993 murder and robbery of Frank Swain in Plymouth, NC.

During the hearing, the Commission’s Executive Director, Lindsey Guice Smith, presented the case to the Commissioners. The Commission’s lead investigators on this case were former Associate Director Sharon Stellato and current Grant Staff Attorney Catherine Matoian. After carefully considering the evidence, the Commission unanimously concluded in both cases that there was sufficient evidence of factual innocence to merit judicial review. Both cases were referred forward for a hearing before a three-judge panel. The Chief Justice of North Carolina Supreme Court, Mark D. Martin, will appoint three superior court judges to hear the cases in Washington County.

The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission is a state agency charged with investigating post-conviction claims of factual innocence. The agency was created by the General Assembly in 2006 and began operations in 2007. The Commission is the first and only of its kind in the country. Since 2007, the Commission has conducted investigations that have resulted in the exoneration of 10 individuals and almost 2500 claims have been submitted to the agency.

For more information, please contact the Commission’s Executive Director, Lindsey Guice Smith, at (919) 890-1580 or You may also find more information on the Commission’s website at

* A state agency created by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2006 pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 15A-1460-75.