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In September 1999, John Paul Counts was sentenced to 30 years in prison for murdering an 18-year-old Shallotte woman in 1994.
But on Friday, July 11, after serving less than nine years of his prison sentence, Counts is scheduled to be paroled.
Counts, 40, pleaded guilty to the second-degree murder of Amy Frink, and began his sentence in the N.C. Department of Correction on Sept. 14, 1999.
On June 23, 1994, Amy Frink was driving from her home near Shallotte to Cherry Grove, S.C., to visit her sister, but never made it there.
At 2:49 a.m. she called her sister to tell her she was on her way.
That was the last time anyone heard from her.
Sheriff’s deputies found Frink’s body June 24, 1994, in a remote hunting club just south of the state line. Frink had been stabbed, beaten and run over with her own car before being left to bleed to death, according to the 1994 recounting published in The Brunswick Beacon.
At the time, Amy’s parents Birdie and Barry pleaded for anyone with information about their daughter’s murder to come forward.
They waited four years, to the day, for an arrest in their daughter’s murder.
On June 23, 1998, Counts was arrested for his role in Amy Frink’s murder.
“I hope that Paul Counts is not the person that entered the DOC, and hopefully he will be an asset to his community wherever he might chose to live,” Amy Frink’s mother, Birdie said this week.
A second suspect, John Gamble, 44, was also charged with her murder. Gamble pleaded guilty in July 2000 to four counts of being an accessory to the kidnapping, rape and murder of Amy Frink.
Gamble, who was also sentenced to 30 years in prison, has had 20 infractions since beginning his sentence, with his latest infraction on Dec. 17, 2007, according to DOC.
Gamble’s next custody review date is scheduled for Nov. 1, 2008.
Counts will be paroled as part of the Mutual Agreement Parole Program, according to the state’s post release supervision and parole commission.
The Mutual Agreement Parole Program began in North Carolina in 1975 as a pilot project, before going statewide the following year, according to the program’s status report.
The program, “helps to prepare selected parole-eligible inmates for release through structured activities, scheduled progression in custody levels, participation in community-based programs and conditional parole dates.
“Today, MAPP is an effective management tool that encourages behavioral change, rewards appropriate behavior, evaluates an offender’s readiness for release and prepares the offender for successful reentry into society.”
For inmates to be released through the program, they must meet the following criteria: be within three years of parole eligibility; be in medium or minimum custody; have no pending court action; have not had an infraction in the past 90 days; be a convicted felon under pre-Structured Sentencing laws; and “recognizes a need for involvement in MAPP and expresses an interest in one or more of the following: a learning skill, improving educational achievements, modifying specific behaviors or engaging in personal growth programs,” according to the report.
According to the N.C. Department of Corrections, Counts has had no infractions while in prison and has been housed in the regular population.