YADKINVILLE, N.C. (WGHP) – A Yadkin County man serving a life sentence for first-degree murder because he shot his father in the head has been denied parole again.
The North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission, which for months has been announcing it was releasing some inmates convicted of crimes that occurred before October 1994, announced Tuesday that Barry D. Holcomb would not be among them.
Holcomb, now 70, was convicted on Nov. 23, 1977, in Yadkin County Superior Court for first-degree murder on May 8, 1977, and appeals for relief have been denied by both the North Carolina Supreme Court and a U.S. magistrate.
There were no other convictions in the case, and Holcomb has no other record of state incarceration.
North Carolina abolished parole in cases involving murder and rape as of Oct. 1, 1994, and the commission is charged with considering the parole of offenders who were sentenced under guidelines before that date. The commission sometimes seeks public comment on whether that parole should be granted and sometimes denies parole after review.
The commission does not say why Holcomb was denied freedom that has been granted to dozens of others – including some for first-degree murder – in recent months. In November the commission announced that a man convicted of first-degree murder as a teen in Davidson County would be released.
Court records say that Holcomb saw his father sitting in a recliner in the living room of the home they shared, went to his car to get a loaded gun and then returned and shot his father. The document said that “there was evidence that defendant and his father did not get along very well, but there had been no trouble between them on the day of the shooting.”
The parole commission apparently first considered Holcomb’s release in 2009, WRAL-TV reported. It’s unclear how many reviews there could have been since then. But we do know about Holcomb’s appeals in state and federal court.
State, federal judgments
On Oct. 17, 1978, the NC Supreme Court rejected arguments raised on Holcomb’s behalf by attorneys N. Lawrence Hudspeth III and Larry G. Reavis of Winston-Salem that the trial judge had erred by not suppressing the finding of the murder weapon. They had argued Holcomb did not properly receive his Miranda rights at the moment the weapon was located and that he in fact was insane. His attorneys argued the case should have been submitted as voluntary manslaughter.
In their ruling, the justices wrote that Holcomb had hung the murder weapon on a tree limb near a rock quarry in Yadkin County. Holcomb’s uncles helped investigators locate the weapon.
“We find little in this evidence which would negate defendant’s defense of insanity,” the justices wrote.
Holcomb also appealed in federal court that his 80-year sentence should be reduced because he had earned credits for time served that should be applied. He argued he was denied due process.
But on June 25, 2013, U.S. Magistrate Judge L. Patrick Auld ruled that legal precedent refuted those arguments and granted a summary judgment in favor of the NC Department of Corrections.
Holcomb most recently has been housed in the Scotland Correctional Institution in Laurinburg. His record shows 24 infractions, which sometimes are used in evaluating applications for parole, but none since 2019. Most were for provoking assault and unauthorized use of tobacco.
The commission advises that if you have questions about these paroles, you can call 919-716–3010.