FALL RIVER — A man who has spent more than half his life in prison for a Fall River murder he committed in 1999, when he was just 17 years old, is getting out.

Now 39, Corie Stokes was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 2001 on first degree murder charges in the killing of 39-year-old Cecil Smith Jr.

But on Nov. 3, the state's parole board granted his release after he spends six months in a lower security facility.

Parole documents note Stokes was a gang member with a troubled childhood, relating that he spent one Christmas in jail because no one would pay his $1 bail.

He belived Smith was a member of a rival gang responsible for stabbing him and assaulting his friend, leading him to shoot Smith to death in a Fall River apartment.

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Following the shooting, Stokes fled to his grandmother's house in Georgia before being extradited back to Massachusetts, where he was tried and convicted.

A 2013 decision from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court determined life without parole sentences for juveniles to be unlawful, so Stokes' sentence was revised in 2014 to allow him to be paroled.

And 22 years after his initial arrest, he is being released.

The parole board granted his release into a residential program in six months, citing the fact that he was juvenile at the time of the murder and the fact that he has taken advantage of "all available programming" in prison.

They noted that he also completed his GED in 2016, and holds a number of leadership positions in several organizations.

His parole was granted on several conditions including drug and alcohol testing, electronic monitoring, and a curfew, among others.

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