Supreme Court Rejects Petition To Alter Parole Eligibility

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Supreme Court has rejected a petition by a Bismarck man convicted of killing his wife to alter the parole eligibility dates of his life sentence.

Russell Craig, 58, was sentenced to life after pleading guilty in the fatal stabbing of Pamela Craig-Johnson in 2006. The sentence included the possibility of parole.

The Supreme Court has affirmed a district court’s ruling that denied Craig’s claim for post-conviction relief. The court said any issues that might allow such relief had already been brought up or should have been brought up at earlier proceedings, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Craig filed for relief in October 2020, arguing that his parole date had been illegally changed. Prosecutors countered that the matter had been settled in previous proceedings. South Central District Judge Bruce Romanick agreed with prosecutors.

Craig appealed to the Supreme Court, saying the lower court was wrong in determining his claims had already been considered in a 2018 motion to withdraw his guilty plea.

He said he made the motion to change his plea because he didn’t previously understand that he could spend 30 years in prison before being eligible for parole. Craig cited poor legal representation.

Justices noted that Craig admitted he did not previously raise issues of possible retroactive or illegal changes to his sentence at the district court level.