Alford Jones, 55, and Faye Brown, 56, are the first two convicts to win a court order for release by arguing time credits cut years off of life terms that were limited to 80 years under the law at the time they were convicted.
Superior Court Judge Ripley Rand issued written orders in the cases of Jones and Brown that the inmates should be released no later than 5 p.m. on Monday. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Roy Cooper said his office plans to appeal.
"I'm furious," Perdue told reporters while visiting Camp Lejeune, vowing again to try and stop the release. "I have been really angry about this whole process."
Rand said the Department of Correction was wrongly interpreting its regulations on sentence-reduction credits.
It's not clear how the ruling will affect some two dozen other inmates who are in similar situations to Jones and Brown. After state courts defined their sentences as only 80 years, officials had scrambled to prepare them for release.