RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – A Guilford County man who has spent most of his adult life behind bars received a special gift for his 70th birthday: He is being considered for parole after spending most of his life sentence in state prison.

Bobby Leon McClelland, convicted in 1994 in Guilford County Superior Court for second-degree murder and many other charges, turned 70 on Wednesday, and on Thursday the North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission announced it was considering his candidacy for parole under a program for crimes committed before Oct. 1, 1994, when state sentencing law changed.

Bobby Leon McClelland (NC DPS)

McClelland has been serving life and numerous other sentences for killing David Neal Parker in a fit of jealousy on Jan. 17, 1993, at The Pantry, a convenience store on Randleman Road.

McClelland shot Parker out of jealousy over a woman who was Parker’s friend, according to trial testimony reported by the News & Record, after McClelland confronted Parker outside the store. He then fired a second shot into Parker’s car, where Parker’s wife was sitting.

A man with McClelland, James Monroe Erwin, was sentenced about three weeks after McClelland to 12 years for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and accessory after the fact on conspiracy. He was released in June 1998 after serving about 52 months.

But McClelland’s conviction on Feb. 2, 1994, was hardly limited to that one crime. In fact, he has a pages-long record for being a habitual offender. Like Erwin, he received a concurrent 10-year sentence for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, which he completed in December 1998.

But he also received an additional 50 years – a term he completed in May 2016 – for four charges consolidated for judgment: two counts of being a habitual felon, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Also consolidated were 12 charges from Dec. 27, 1992, for which McClelland received 15 years. They included being a habitual felon, two counts of attempted robbery with a deadly weapon, four counts of second-degree kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, possession of a firearm by a felon, robbery with a dangerous weapon, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon and felony breaking and entering.

That was combined with 50 years served concurrently for being a habitual felon and possession of a firearm by a felon on that date.

And, on top of that, he had been on probation in Randolph County, for charges of larceny and resisting arrest on Feb. 3, 1992, and in Guilford County, for larceny on Feb. 19, 1991.

Before that McClelland, who also has been known as James Mack, ran up an extremely long history of incarceration as an adult, dating back to 1977. Almost none of them were violent before the shooting. Most were for larceny, shoplifting and resisting police.

There are some 36 charges listed for adjudication, and he has spent most of his adult life behind bars or on probation.

North Carolina abolished parole in cases involving murder and rape as of Oct. 1, 1994, and the commission is charged with considering parole for offenders who were sentenced under guidelines before that date. The commission sometimes seeks public comment on whether that parole should be granted.

McClelland is being considered for release through the commission’s Mutual Agreement Parole Program, which is a scholastic and vocational process that is completed and reviewed in a three-way agreement among the commission, the Division of Prisons and the offender.

The MAPP program

To be approved for release under MAPP, an inmate must show 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.
  • If sentenced under the Fair Sentencing Act, to be eligible for 270-day parole or community-service parole.

The program also stipulates that “there should be a recognizable need on the part of the inmate for involvement in the MAPP program and the inmate should express a desire to participate in improving educational achievements, learning skills, personal growth programs and modifying specific behavior.”

McClelland, currently housed in Dan River Work Farm in Blanch, has 46 listed infractions, but none since 2016, which was for disobeying an order, his most common in fraction. He has been charged with possessing weapons on several occasions, assault with a weapon and other fighting and assault infractions.