18 January 2023
RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – A man serving a life sentence for a second-degree murder conviction in Guilford County has a date to walk out of prison.
Bruce H. Harper, who was convicted and sentenced in 1993 in Guilford County Superior Court, has been granted parole, the North Carolina Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission announced Wednesday, the latest in a series of felons convicted before 1994 who are getting a new lease on life sentences outside of prison.
Harper is scheduled to be released on Dec. 9, 2024, after the commission in July announced that it was reviewing his case. This program was implemented for life sentences before Oct. 1, 1994, when the statute on sentencing structure changed to prohibit parole for some crimes.
Harper’s conviction was barely a year before that cutoff date, and he has served more than 29 years – since Aug. 18, 1993 – on the second-degree murder charge.
His parole was through the Mutual Agreement Parole Program, which requires inmates to complete academic and vocational training. Those being considered must not be held in maximum custody or under a detainer, and they must be infraction free for at least 90 days.
Searches of various databases did not provide details of the crime for which Harper was convicted, other than the court data in his file, and the parole commission conducted an investigation of his record and took testimony from the public. Decisions are announced within 10 days after such investigations are completed.
Harper, now 59, was 30 years old when he was sentenced, but he had a long record of incarceration for crimes that included felonies, three times related to assaulting a female:
In 1988-1991 he served little more than 3 years on sentences of 10 years and 5 months on a series of merged charges that included two counts of assault on a female, one of pointing a gun at her and trespassing related to that from a case in 1988.
The year before that he had been on probation for assaulting a female.
In 1983-84 he served 5 months of a 1-year sentence for larceny.
In 1981-82 he served about 8 months on a 2-year sentence for assault on a female and breaking-and-entering.
In 1981 he was on probation for two counts of receiving stolen goods, assault on a female and misdemeanor breaking-and-entering.
In 1980 he served 90 days for assaulting a female and for breaking and entering.
Harper since May has been housed at Tabor Correctional Institute in Tabor City, which is in Columbus County, but in his nearly three decades he has been charged with 39 rules infractions, although none since January 2016.
Those infractions include various instances of fighting, profanity, threats, disobeying orders, substance possession and even unauthorized leave (which that doesn’t say “escape”). There are eight violations for “sexual act.”