RALEIGH, N.C. – One inmate from the Piedmont Triad who was serving a life sentence in North Carolina prison for a violent crime was released on parole nearly two weeks ago, and another, imprisoned for murder since he was 16, will be freed next month.

Carlton Cheek of Randolph County and Kenzil D. Collington of Guilford County are the most recent inmates to be granted their freedom by the North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission for crimes they committed before Oct. 1, 1994, when state sentencing law changed.

Cheek had been convicted of first-degree forcible rape in Randolph County Superior Court on March 11, 1982. He was released on Feb. 22, a Department of Prisons official said.

Collington, who was convicted of second-degree murder in Guilford County Superior Court on Nov. 7, 1983 – less than seven months after he turned 17 – is scheduled to be released on April 2.

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

Collington earned his 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 Cheek case

Carlton Cheek, 64, was housed at the Pitt County Detention Center in Greenville before he was released after serving nearly 41 years. The state’s database of offenders includes no photo of Cheek, lists no infractions of rules while in custody, and the rape was the only crime of which he had been convicted as an adult.

On April 30, 1981, a woman in Liberty said she was napping midday in her home when a man came in, held her face down by knifepoint and raped her.

Based on a transcript from the North Carolina Supreme Court, which reviewed Cheek’s claim of error by the trial judge, the woman said the man, later identified as Cheek, held a knife with a serrated blade against her neck and forcibly raped her.

She told investigators that she couldn’t see the assailant, but after she left, she saw a man “wearing a khaki-colored shirt running across her lawn.” She also said that a knife and $35 cash had been taken.

A witness in the neighborhood saw a man fitting that description operating a state mower in the vicinity around the time of woman was attacked.

The operator, Cheek, was interviewed by Liberty police investigators, and after receiving his Miranda rights, he admitted to using the knife to force intercourse and stealing the woman’s purse.

But during trial, Cheek testified that he made up that story to please investigators. He said he had met the victim at a restaurant and that they twice had had consensual sex. He admitted to taking the money but denied he had raped her. The woman in court denied that account, the transcript said.

On Feb. 8, 1983, the NC Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s denial of a motion to dismiss because of a flawed indictment and affirmed Cheek’s conviction.

The Collington case

Kenzil D. Collington (NC DPS)

Kenzil Denios Collington, 56, was a month shy of his 17th birthday on March 30, 1983, when he was charged with breaking into his next-door neighbor’s house and beating and stabbing her. He pleaded guilty and was given a life sentence.

The News & Record reported that Sue Miles Dahamni, 41, had been “beaten with a wooden paddle and stabbed with a steak knife” before her son found her on the floor of her home.

Collington was charged with second-degree murder and first-degree burglary in Guilford County. A felony breaking-and-entering charge from a month earlier, Feb. 16, 1983, was merged for prosecution, and that 10-year sentence was served consecutively.

On March 23, 1997, Collington tried to escape custody in Davidson County while he was on a pass to attend church in Midway, the News & Record reported, but he was recaptured at a friend’s house later that day.

He had been described as a “model prisoner” before that day. Collington ultimately was given probation on Aug. 21, 1997.

The MAPP program

To be part of the MAPP program, 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.”

Collington, currently housed in Johnston County Correctional Institute in Smithfield, has 27 listed infractions, but none since 2018, which was for a “sexual act.” There was nothing before that since 2011, and, in addition to his attempted escape, there was one other for a sexual act, one for theft and the rest for basic rules violations for charges such as profanity and gambling.

If you have questions or want to comment on either parole, you can contact the commission at 919- 716–3010.