The N.C. Parole Commission has denied parole for a former Ku Klux Klan leader who used a razor-tipped arrow to slay a black teen in 1992.
Russell Hinson was convicted in 1993 of using a crossbow to kill 16-year-old Felicia Houston, who was visiting family in Monroe three days after Christmas.
The commission made its decision last week, and Hinson has been notified of the reasons for it, state Department of Public Safety spokesman Keith Acree said Tuesday.
“I think it’s good, you know, because he done the crime,” said Felicia’s father, Eugene Houston. “He ought to serve it.”
Once you have hate in your bloodstream, you have hate forever
Walter Broome, Hinson’s former stepson
Hinson had told friends that a black drug dealer in Monroe ripped him off of $70 when he tried to buy crack cocaine in December 1992, according to trial testimony.
One friend testified that Hinson told him he wanted to send a message and “shoot a n----- through the heart.” It didn’t matter who so long as they were black.
Felicia was walking down an apartment sidewalk with her two cousins, singing and laughing, when Hinson shot her through the chest.
An all-white jury deadlocked over whether he should get the death penalty, with three jurors favoring that punishment. Hinson was sentenced to life in prison.
After inmates become eligible for parole, those convicted of first-degree murder have their cases automatically reviewed by the independent N.C. Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission every three years.
This is the second time Hinson’s case was rejected.
Eugene Houston said he and his wife, Betty, are prepared to relive the case when it returns in 2019. “We’re getting used to it.”
Hinson also was convicted in federal court in 1989 of a felony civil rights intimidation charge, and received five years probation. If he is ever paroled for killing Felicia, he then would have to serve five years in federal prison.
The state does not disclose how the four parole commissioners voted.
The interest of justice has been served
Union County DA Trey Robison
Parole is rarely granted. Last year, the commission reviewed 217 first-degree murder cases and released only four killers.
’The interest of justice’
Friends and family recalled Felicia as bright, funny and friendly, the type of person who would often help older neighbors or come to the aid of younger students if they were getting picked on.
She lived south of Monroe and was in 10th grade in Parkwood High. Her mother said Felicia entertained thoughts of being a nurse one day.
Hinson is 56. An uncle, Dennis Long, told the Observer that Hinson had expressed remorse for the murder. He found God several years ago and no longer harbors ill will toward African-Americans, Long said. He declined to comment Tuesday on the parole board’s decision.
An online petition from friends and family supporting Hinson’s release has 75 signatures.
Union County District Attorney Trey Robison said the parole board made the right call: “The interest of justice has been served.”
An online petition opposing Hinson’s release had more than 1,700 signatures, with about 1,000 names added in the days after the Observer detailed the case this month.
Hinson’s ex-stepson, Charlotte resident Walter Broome, strongly opposed his release. Broome was in his early teens and living with Hinson at the time of the murder because his mother was married to Hinson then.
Broome expressed relief with the parole decision.
“He’s a monster and deserves to spend the rest of life in jail,” Broome said. He doesn’t believe in Hinson’s religious conversion, saying, “Once you have hate in your bloodstream, you have hate forever.”
Growing up, Broome recalled Hinson holding Klan meetings in their home outside Monroe. Shortly before Felicia’s murder, Broome said, he remembered Hinson taking his crossbow out and tossing it in the truck, telling the boy, “When I’m gone, you’ll have to be the man of the house.”