The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles is considering whether to release one of three men serving a life sentence for the decades-old slaying of a Forsyth County couple.
Tony and Kathy Reid were shot to death Dec. 18, 1989, in the Hwy. 141 home into which they had just moved. He was 34 and she was 29.
The director of the Georgia Corrections and Parole Board Office of Victim Services sent a letter in April informing the couple’s family members that the board is considering recommending Felton Junior Avery for a medical reprieve.
The letter shows that his health is declining, but does not specify conditions of Avery’s illness.
The director asked the families to share their views about Avery’s possible release in writing by Tuesday.
Avery, Kenneth Brady and Billy Ray Robertson were convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the Reid’s deaths.
Tony Reid’s brother, Danny Reid, said the family has reached out to those who worked on the case in an effort to keep Avery behind bars.
“We’ve just been calling everybody we can think of and getting them to write letters,” he said.
Reid said authorities think Avery was the gunman.
“We’re doing all we can,” Reid said. “We sure don’t want him out and I don’t think anybody else wants him out.”
Reports show the couple was robbed and shot execution style. One of Tony Reid’s employees found them Dec. 19, 1989, when he came to check on Reid because he hadn’t come to work.
They were lying face down on the dining room floor of the house, which had been ransacked.
Helen Jones, Kathy Reid’s mother, said she has posted information about the issue on a social networking site and asked friends and family to send letters to the parole board.
“We have contacted some of the parole board members directly and we have contacted our representative here, Brooks Coleman, so we have been working,” Jones said.
“We hope there’s some good that comes from all of our efforts in making all of these contacts and having letters written.”
She said the board will not hold a hearing on the matter, but each member will review Avery’s file before they issue a decision collectively. She doesn’t know when the decision will be made.
“We don’t want him to have the medical reprieve,” Jones said. “We don’t feel that would be fair to the families that have suffered. We have a life sentence of living without Tony and Kathy.”
Jones said she hopes more people will send letters or e-mails to the board in an effort to stop Avery’s release.
“We would ask that anybody that has an interest would do that,” Jones said.
It took authorities about three years and four months to catch the men responsible for the Reids’ deaths.
Robertson at one time had worked for Tony Reid. He was tried separately from Avery and Brady.
Danny Reid said he considers all three convicts dangerous.
Garry Moss, now Cherokee County’s district attorney, prosecuted the case. He has told the Forsyth County News that Robertson did not physically participate in the crime but gave Brady information about the Reids.
It appeared that Brady got Avery involved and they hatched a plan. Moss said Robertson was a witness against Avery and Brady and after they were convicted, Avery testified against Robertson.
The Reid family’s farming history in Forsyth County predates the Civil War.
Tony Reid, a lifelong resident, was an auctioneer and owned a used car business. Kathy Reid was originally from Duluth and worked at a software company.
Tony Reid stayed home instead of going to a car sale the day he was killed because of bad weather. Kathy Reid had decorated a Christmas tree in the house and was baking a cake that morning for a friend who had just had a baby.
State Department of Corrections records show Avery’s criminal history goes back as far as 1970.
He had been sentenced in other counties for various offenses, including burglary, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, escape and aggravated assault of a peace officer.