GREENSBORO, NC (WGHP) – A man who already was resentenced for his conviction for first-degree murder as a teen could be released from the life sentence he is serving in state prison.
The North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission, which for months has been announcing it was releasing some inmates convicted of crimes that occurred before October 1994, wants to know whether it should grant parole to Sethy Tony Seam, who has been in prison for more than two decades.
But unlike the other potential and granted parolees who were reviewed by the commission, Seam’s sentence is for a crime that occurred well after the usual cutoff date used by the commission.
Seam, 41, is serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole after being convicted in 1999 of first-degree murder in Davidson County Superior Court. He was resentenced on Oct. 11, 2017, after his case fell under review by both the U.S. Supreme Court and the North Carolina Supreme Court.
Seam was 16 in 1999 when he was arrested after a robbery in Lexington during which Harold King, owner of King Supermarket at 305 Bisecker Road in Lexington, was shot to death.
Seam, who lived at 210 Confederate St. in Lexington, was arrested with Freddy Van, 16, of 1195 Leonard Road, and charged as adults with first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery.
Seam was in the car while Van robbed the store and shot the clerk three times, a summary of court documents revealed. Seam told investigators that he did not even know that his friend had a gun and never entered the store.
Van pleaded guilty in August 1999 to second-degree murder and attempted armed robbery and was sentenced to spend between 27 and 34 years in prison. He was released in January after serving 22 years and 9 months.
But a month after Van’s plea, a jury deliberated two and a half hours before finding Seam guilty of first-degree murder even though he hadn’t entered the store or pulled the trigger. He was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Supreme Court’s involvement
In 2012, the United States Supreme Court ruled that life sentences without the possibility of parole are unconstitutional for juvenile offenders. The NC Supreme Court then approved sentences for juveniles of life with the possibility of parole after 25 years served.
The NC Supreme Court heard Seam’s case and remanded it to lower court for resentencing on Oct. 11, 2017. He received credit for 7,262 days of pretrial confinement, Department of Corrections spokesperson Greg Thomas wrote in response to questions from WGHP.
“He has to serve 25 years less pretrial confinement credit to be eligible for parole,” Thomas wrote. “His parole eligibility date is November 17, 2022.”
Seam further appealed the judgment through the Court of Appeals and NC Supreme Court based on the circumstances of the sentence and lost his final appeal in 2020.
North Carolina otherwise had abolished parole in cases involving murder and rape as of Oct. 1, 1994, and the commission has been charged with considering the parole of offenders who were sentenced under guidelines before that date. The commission sometimes seeks public comment on whether that parole should be granted.
The parole commission didn’t set a date for completing its investigation of Seam’s case, but it said in a release that information gathered from talking to persons involved would be used in its decision. Once that decision was made, there would be an announcement within 10 days.
Seam’s case is being considered for parole under the commission’s Mutual Agreement Parole Program, a “scholastic and vocational program” that is a 3-way agreement among the commission, the Division of Prisons and the offender that requires an inmate to display a desire to improve educational and training programs and a self-improvement process.
There is a 3-year walk-up to release that, the MAPP website states, requires the inmate:
- To be in medium or minimum custody.
- Not to be subject to a detainer or pending court action that could result in further confinement.
- To be infraction-free for a period of 90 days before being recommended.
Seam, who is housed at the Anson Correctional Institution in Polkton, only has five infractions on his record, none since 2020, when he was cited for substance possession. Two of his offenses were for possessing an excess number of stamps.
The commission is required to review all offenders eligible for parole on an annual basis. If you have questions, you can call 919-716–3010.