Man serving life in prison for killing police chief father fights to be released

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — A man sentenced to life in prison for killing his father in 2002 in Gaston County is fighting to be let back into the community.

Gaston College Police Chief Randy High was shot and killed in his home by his 14-year-old son, Nathaniel High, and his son's girlfriend.

Randy High

(Randy High)

After spending 17 years in prison, Nathaniel High has a new attorney who said that his sentence is wrong. He is now planning to file an appeal.

A few years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that any minor charged with murder as an adult cannot be sentenced to life in prison. At that time, prosecutors changed Nathaniel's conviction to second-degree murder and agreed on a sentence of 25 years in prison.

Nathaniel High

(Nathaniel High)

Nathaniel's new attorney Brad Smith told Channel 9's Ken Lemon that he is filing an appeal based on a robbery charge that was not considered during the 2004 trial, which added time to his adjusted sentence.

"You put this case in 2019 or 2020, I couldn't imagine a 14-year-old under these circumstances can be prosecuted as an adult," said Smith.

Smith said Nathaniel was abused by his father and believes he should be able to get out of prison with more than enough time served.

Tony Robinson, one of the investigators in 2002, said Nathaniel's sentence should not be altered, even considering that he was 15 when the judge decided he should be tried as an adult.

"If he was 16, we probably wouldn't be having this conversation. So we are looking at the difference of days," said Robinson.

Robinson managed investigators who collected evidence and interviewed Nathaniel after the murder.

"He had no remorse. I don't know that he has got any to this day," Robinson said.

According to Robinson, Nathaniel earned his original life sentence and said cutting 10 years off the new sentence seems unfair.

"He knew right from wrong. They shot him. Left him there, went shopping afterwards," said Robinson.

Nathaniel's attorney has 45 days to submit his request for a new sentence to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and then the attorney general's office must respond.

Smith said it could take a few months to get the court of appeals to consider the case, but he believes the law is on his side.

Nathaniel's girlfriend was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder and is set to be released in 2024.