KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — As a family fights to keep the man who shot and killed their father behind bars, the Knox County District Attorney has sent a letter to the parole board urging them to deny his parole.

Jimmy Ray Cureton was arrested in 1996 for the 1990 shooting of Bill Frye, who was killed outside of the Corner Market & Deli on Maryville Pike. Cureton was 17 years old at the time of the shooting.

“Two juveniles had been in his store and had argued with him over a pack of cigarettes,” Dan Frye, Bill’s son, told WATE. “He refused to sell a pack of cigarettes to them and they got angry and left.”

Investigators determined those juveniles went back to the store and killed Frye. They were questioned by detectives and released. Then, the case went cold for six years until police
received a tip.

“Mr. Frye was a beloved husband, father, and grandfather. He was also a successful and well-liked small-business owner, especially by loyal customers of his deli. His murder shocked the south Knoxville community as the tragic crime went unsolved for six long years. The mystery left his family and friends with few answers and no justice as they mourned their loss,” read the letter from DA Charme Allen.

Cureton was found guilty of attempted especially aggravated robbery and felony murder in 1998. He received a life sentence plus ten years consecutive.

“Releasing Mr. Cureton after serving 27 years on a 70-year sentence for this particular first-degree murder and attempted aggravated robbery would undermine fundamental principles of justice and add fresh injury to Mr. Frye’s family and friends who still mourn his passing,” the letter reads.

The parole hearing for Cureton is scheduled for September 5. Frye has a petition to keep the man who murdered his dad behind bars.