NC man serving life sentence for stabbing wife to death at gas station in 1987 up for parole

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James Tidwell. (Courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety via WECT)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) – A man serving a life sentence for fatally stabbing his estranged wife at a Wilmington gas station in 1987 will be considered for parole.

James Leo Tidwell, 68, was convicted by a New Hanover County jury of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison for the crime.

According to online court documents, Tidwell stabbed his wife, Mavies Tidwell, to death during an altercation at Gas World on College Road in Wilmington on Sept. 27, 1987.

The morning of the deadly encounter, Tidwell told a co-worker that he had seen Mavies with another man and that he was going to kill her. Tidwell and his wife had been separated for approximately three months.

Tidwell asked the co-worker if they had a gun, and when she refused, he left the apartment saying that he would stab his wife and that “[w]herever he caught her, he was going to kill her.”

Two hours later, Mavies Tidwell, accompanied by her youngest child, drove up to Gas World and yelled at the clerk that she was being harassed by a man and that the police should be called. Minutes later, James Tidwell drove up behind Mavies and the two began arguing.

The confrontation escalated and James Tidwell went to his wife’s car and started attacking her with a knife before leaving the scene. Mavies Tidwell was found lying beside her car with no vital signs. A knife was located about two feet away.

James Tidwell then visited the pastor of First Wesleyan Church and admitted to killing his wife. The pastor testified that Tidwell’s clothing was covered in blood. Tidwell remained at the church until police arrived and arrested him.

Tidwell was convicted on Feb. 3, 1988.

The N.C. Post-Release Supervision and Parole Commission announced in a Wednesday news release that they will investigate the Tidwell case and consider him for possible parole.

The state’s current sentencing law, Structured Sentencing, eliminates parole for crimes committed on or after Oct. 1, 1994. However, the commission has the responsibility of paroling offenders who were sentenced under previous sentencing guidelines.

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