Woman serving life for 1989 murder could see early release

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Dreamer Lee Cottle Alston

A Wilmington woman currently serving a life sentence for a first-degree murder charge is being considered for early release from prison after serving 25 years.

The case of 57-year-old Dreamer Lee Cottle Alston is being investigated for possible parole through the Mutual Agreement Parole Program (MAPP), according to a notice from the North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission.

Alston was convicted of first-degree murder in New Hanover County Superior Court on Jan. 4, 1990, according to the N.C. Department of Corrections. She was charged in connection with the shooting death of 21-year-old Pernell D. Joe in August 1989, Wilmington Police Department Spokeswoman Cathryn Lindsay said.

MAPP is a scholastic and vocational program that is a three-way agreement between the parole commission, the division of prisons and the offender. The commission will consider information from people for and against Alston’s release from prison, as well as facts in the case, the notice said.

On Aug. 16, 1989 around 11:45 p.m., Joe was fatally shot at the Dove Meadows Apartments in the 200 block of Virginia Avenue, Lindsay said. Police found Joe lying between the sidewalk and the road, suffering a gunshot wound to his chest. Joe was pronounced dead at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

During the investigation police found Alston had fired at Joe from inside a moving vehicle, Lindsay said. The incident was sparked by a fight earlier in the day between Joe and Alston’s husband, news reports of the trial said.

Alston was 32 when she was tried for first-degree murder. According to news reports of the trial, Alston’s attorney argued she’d acted in self-defense when Joe came at her car with a boat paddle.

Alston had no criminal record at the time and reported she was a housewife and mother of three who had always lived in Wilmington.

Alston is eligible for parole under the Fair Sentencing Law, which governed sentencing and parole in North Carolina from July 1, 1981, until Sept. 30, 1994. Crimes that occurred on or after Oct. 1, 1994, when The Structured Sentencing Act took effect in North Carolina, are not eligible for parole as it previously existed under the Fair Sentencing Law guidelines.

The commission is required to review all offenders eligible for parole on an annual basis, according to the notice. Alston is being held at the Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women in Black Mountain.