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Bill Kirby Jr.: Al Lowry will never give up fight to keep brother’s killer behind bars

‘Where’s my brother’s parole?’ the younger brother of a slain state Highway Patrol officer testifies in a hearing to determine whether Kevin Golphin should be eligible for parole.


Al Lowry was like all of us on that bright and sunny afternoon of Sept. 23, 1997, when television and radio news reports were relaying the word that “officers were down” in a traffic stop gone tragically wrong along Interstate 95.

He is the younger brother of Ed Lowry, a state Highway Patrol trooper with 22 years of experience as a trooper.

“I told my wife to call his cell phone,” Lowry, 69, was testifying this week in the case of 42-year-old Kevin Golphin, who is seeking the possibility of parole from two life sentences in the shooting deaths of Ed Lowry and Cumberland County sheriff’s deputy David Hathcock.

“There was no answer. You had that feeling something was wrong.”

Al Lowry had visited his mother, who was ill with cancer, earlier in the day at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center and was on his way back for a second visit.

“When I pulled up to the hospital, there was a sea of patrol cars,” Lowry testified at the hearing being heard by Superior Court Judge Tom Lock at the Judge E. Maurice Braswell Cumberland County Courthouse. “I told them I was going into the hospital and they asked who I was.”

Al Lowry, he told a patrolman.

“He said, ‘You need to come with me,’” Al Lowry said.

Ed Lowry, the brother he loved and looked up to all of his life, was dead from multiple gunshot wounds at the hands of Tilmon Golphin and Kevin Golphin.

“At 7:30, I got to see my brother,” Al Lowry said. “He was on a gurney in his uniform. I wanted to hug him. Ants were crawling on him.”

Al Lowry was told he could not hug his brother, nor could he brush away the ants. Ed Lowry now was part of a crime scene investigation.

‘A chip on my shoulder’

Al Lowry is a bitter man – a brother, he wasn’t afraid to tell the judge, “with a chip on my shoulder” when it comes to the thought of the Golphin brothers - who used an SKS semi-automatic rifle and Ed Lowry’s .40-caliber service revolver to take the lives of the two law enforcement officers.

Now, 25 years beyond the murders, Al Lowry remains angry and loathes the site of the Golphin brothers or the mention of their names.

His anger erupted in December 2012 when Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Greg Weeks commuted the sentences of three death-row inmates, including Tilmon Golphin, to life without parole as part of the Racial Justice Act that ruled improprieties in jury selection of African American jurors.

“Judge, you had your mind made up before this ever started!” Al Lowry shouted at the judge and then pointed his finger at Tilmon Golphin as Al Lowry was restrained and escorted from the courtroom packed with Highway Patrol troopers. “Golphin, you'll have me to deal with if you ever get (out).”

He reiterated his anger and frustration outside the courtroom.

“The bottom line is I meant what I said,” Lowry said. “If he thinks he's going to breathe fresh air as long as I’m living, he’s got another thought coming.”

Al Lowry suppressed his anger Tuesday while testifying about his brother, who grew up to become an Eagle Scout, a member of the Hope Mills High School Beta Club and Key Club, and eventually the state Highway Patrol.

“My father was a volunteer fire chief,” Al Lowry said. “And when his son became a highway patrolman, you would have thought he was the president of the United States. I had to be the one to tell him Edward had left this world. He lived long enough to see the trial.”

Al Lowry said his mother was dying of cancer when Ed Lowry was taken to the hospital emergency room. Medical personnel agreed to turn off the television in her room so she would not learn of her son’s death. With her pastor by his side, Al Lowry said he told his mother the following day that Ed Lowry died in a wreck.

“My mother passed away in 1997,” he said. “My father didn’t last much longer.”

He turned to New York defense lawyers numbering 10 and led by Eamon Joyce and Christina Prusak Chianese, who later would argue passionately that Kevin Golphin’s life sentences are worthy of the potential for parole, while only Cumberland County Senior Assistant District Attorney Rob Thompson was there to argue for Lowry and Hathcock.

“Ya’ll got a football team,” Al Lowry told the defense lawyers.

Then Al Lowry reminded the defense lawyers of that Sept. 23, 1997, day, when Kevin and Tilmon Golphin took the lives of his brother and the deputy.

“My brother was shot eight times,” he said. “Eight times is not an accidental shooting.”

Hathcock, according to reports, was shot five times.


 “Ya’ll want him to get out on parole,” Al Lowry told the defense team. “Where’s my brother’s parole? When is he coming back? When is he getting his parole?”

Al Lowry said he has spent the past 25 years fighting to assure justice for his brother and keeping the Golphin brothers imprisoned for the rest of their lives.

“When I’m dead,” he said, “I hope my grandchildren will pick it up. That’s all I’ve got to say.”

Sunday: “I’m very sorry I took those officers’ lives.”

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

Column, Bill Kirby Jr., Cumberland County, Kevin Golphin, parole, Ed Lowry, David Hathcock