GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – A man who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder to avoid the death penalty and another who was sentenced at age 16 are among three inmates from the Piedmont Triad who will be paroled from prison soon.

Two men convicted of second-degree murder and one for first-degree rape, all serving life sentences, will be freed by the North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission, the latest in a series of releases for persons sentenced for crimes committed before Oct. 1, 1994.

These three are:

  • Christopher E. Cook, who pleaded guilty in April 1995 on charges of second-degree murder in Randolph County.
  • Andrew V. Kirkman, who was convicted in July 1991 in Guilford County for second-degree murder and two other charges.
  • Eric L. Lyons, who was convicted in May 1985 for first-degree rape in Davie County, when he was 16 years old.

The state’s formal announcements on Tuesday did not include specific release dates, and all three will be freed under the commission’s Mutual Agreement Parole Program. The program requires that the crime had to be committed before the cutoff date even if the trial wasn’t held until later.

Christopher E. Cook

Christoper Cook (NC DOC)

Cook, now 55, pleaded guilty and testified against his cousin, Terry Mickey, in the murder of Mickey’s wife, Melissa, on June 29, 1992.

Prosecutors had said they would seek the death penalty in the case, and Cook said he took the plea deal to avoid that, the News & Record reported. Terry Mickey, who was 36 at the time of the trial, is serving life plus 20 years after being found guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

Cook, a postal worker from Kernersville who lived in Greensboro at the time of the trial, testified that he killed Melissa Mickey because his cousin said he “owed him a favor,” the News & Record reported.

Melissa Mickey was an interior designer who was found shot twice in the head and once in the back at the couple’s home in Asheboro. Cook said Mickey told him Cook owed him because he had provided Cook with money from stolen credit cards.

Cook said Mickey offered him $10,000 because he didn’t want to divorce his wife. They had two children.

Andrew Kirkman (NC DOC)

Andrew V. Kirkman

Kirkman, now 76, was convicted in July 1991 for murder and kidnapping related to charges from October 1989. He has served more than 31 years.

He also completed a 30-year concurrent sentence for second-degree kidnapping and 2 years for misdemeanor assault with a deadly weapon.

There are no published details about the charges and circumstances, and these were the only offenses listed against him as an adult.

Eric Lyons (NC DOC)

Eric L. Lyons

Lyons, 53, was 16 years old when he was convicted of rape in March 1985 and sentenced to life. It is his only listed criminal offense, and he has served 37 years.

There are no published details about the charges and circumstances that led to this sentence for a juvenile. Any criminal record before this would be sealed because of his age.

These make roughly 13 inmates from the Piedmont Triad to have been designated for or granted parole under pre-1994 programs in the past six months. There were three serving time for rape whose releases were announced just last Friday.

The program

The state’s release says that MAPP is a “scholastic and vocational program” that is a 3-way agreement among the commission, the Division of Prisons and the offender.

To be part of the MAPP program, an inmate must show a desire to improve through 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.
  • If sentenced under the Fair Sentencing Act, to be eligible for 270-day parole or community-service parole.

If you have questions about the release, the commission will accept them if you call 919-716-3010.

Infractions recorded

Cook, who most recently has been held in Davidson County Correctional Center, has had only one infraction against him, which was a 1997 citation for substance possession.

Kirkman most recently has been held at the Southern Correctional Institution in Troy, and he has had only two infractions, both of which occurred on Feb. 28, 2020, when he was cited for profane language and disobeying an order.

Lyons most recently has been held in the Roanoke River Correctional Center, and he has 82 infractions, although none since 2017 and only two in the past 15 years. The majority of those were for disobeying orders.