WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) – A Winston-Salem man who has been in prison for nearly 30 years of a life sentence for killing a man he was trying to rob now has a parole date.

Richard Van Ridgill, now 49, was convicted of second-degree murder – and additional charges – in 1993, when he was 20 years old, in the death of Marvin Asbury Bohannon Sr. of Winston-Salem.

Richard Van Ridgill (NC DOC)

The North Carolina Parole Commission announced Monday that he would be paroled on June 3, 2024, under the Mutual Agreement Parole Program, which is designed to provide a pathway to release for inmates convicted and sentenced under specific fair-sentencing programs.

In 1993, North Carolina enacted the current sentencing law, Structured Sentencing, which eliminated the possibility of parole for crimes committed on or after Oct. 1, 1994. Convicts now must serve at least the entirety of their minimum sentence and 85% of their maximum sentence. Early release remains a possibility for people convicted of crimes before that date under older sentencing guidelines.

Ridgill, who lived at 871 Willow St. in Winston-Salem, was arrested on Jan. 28, 1993, after Winston-Salem Police said he had shot two men during an attempted robbery near an apartment complex the night before, the News & Record reported.

Winston-Salem Police Capt. L.G. Petree told the News & Record that investigators believed Ridgill had killed Bohannon, 28, of 222 Motor Road, Apt. 25, and wounded Timothy Leon Barren, 26, of 4566 Indiana Ave. near the Skyline Village Apartments on the city’s South Side.

During the robbery attempt at about 8:30 p.m. Jan. 27, Bohannon and Barren were shot in front of 48 Timlic Ave., Petree said. Barren was treated at what then was called North Carolina Baptist Hospital and released.

Ridgill originally was charged with murder, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, but he was convicted in Forsyth County Superior Court on Sept. 13, 1993, two days before his 21st birthday, on charges of second-degree murder and armed robbery. He was sentenced to life on the murder charge and a concurrent 14 years for the robbery.

He had been on supervised probation after receiving a suspended sentence on larceny charges in 1990 and again for drug possession charges in 1991.

He most recently was incarcerated at the Alexander Correctional Institute, and his inmate record shows five infractions, two for profanity and three for possession of an undisclosed illegal substance. The last was in March 2017.

To be part of the MAPP program, an inmate must show a desire to improve educational and training programs and self-improvement process. There is a 3-year walk-up to release that, the MAPP website states, requires the inmate:

  • Must be in medium or minimum custody.
  • Not be subject to a detainer or pending court action that could result in further confinement.
  • Be infraction-free for a period of 90 days before being recommended.
  • If sentenced under the Fair Sentencing Act, is otherwise eligible for 270-day parole or community service parole.

MAPP is described as a 3-way agreement among the parole commission, the Division of Prisons and the offender. The announcement by the parole commission is required to inform the community of the change of status of the inmate.