A Goldsboro man convicted of robbing two Johnston County businesses and murdering a Fayetteville store clerk in 1979 is scheduled to be paroled next week.
Johnny Smith is 60 years old. On December 20, 1979 he was sentenced to life in prison for the February 24, 1979 murder of a clerk at a Cumberland County adult book store. Smith and two others ran into the Fayetteville store with guns and during a robbery, forced the clerk Robert Boyer into a back room where he was fatally shot.
On April 7, 1979, Smith robbed Williams Ltd., a clothing store on South Third Street in Smithfield with two accomplices. During the hold up, two female clerks were locked in a backroom as the suspects ransacked the business looking for cash. One of the women’s husbands showed up at the front door. Not knowing it was her husband, the robbers released the woman from the back room to tell the man to leave. The couple ran away and called police. The robbers had fled with $200 in cash by the time Smithfield Police arrived.
On May 26, 1979, the Econo Lodge Travel Lodge in Selma was robbed by the same three men. Police stopped the getaway car and arrested the suspects for both robberies. Cumberland County authorities also charged Smith with the February murder. Smith’s brother and a third man were also convicted for their roles in the Smithfield robberies.
In 1981, attorneys for Smith were unsuccessful in overturning his Fayetteville murder conviction.
Smith, who had been eligible for parole since 1996, was released from the NC Department of Corrections in May 2010 after serving 30 years in prison but violated conditions of his release. In April 2013, a judge sent Smith back to prison. Five months later the Parole Commission turned down a request he be released.
The NC Parole Commission reviewed the case in 2017 and in 2019. Recently the Commission approved releasing Smith. His anticipated parole date is July 15, 2019.
The state’s current sentencing law, Structured Sentencing, eliminates parole for crimes committed on or after October 1, 1994. The Commission has the responsibility of paroling offenders who were sentenced under previous sentencing guidelines.
Smith had been convicted in April 1977 for an armed robbery in Wayne County but had been released from prison just prior to the 1979 crime spree.