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04-06-06, 06:18 AM #1Cris1102 Guest
Update on the Murder Trial of a Brunswick Co. Police Officer
Darrell Maness' mother Annette Tidwell covers her face in grief as the jury delivers a death sentence for her son Tuesday afternoon in the Brunswick County Courthouse. STAFF PHOTO BY TOMMY KOPETSKIE
Death for Maness
BY LAURA LEWIS, Staff writer
A 12-member jury gave Darrell Wayne Maness a death sentence Tuesday for the 2005 murder of Boiling Spring Lakes police officer Mitch Prince.
Maness, 20, hung his head as the verdict was announced at 3:15 p.m. in Brunswick County Superior Court.
Maness' mother, Annette Tidwell, and other family members seated behind him sobbed and eventually left the courtroom.
Several jurors also cried.
Statements from Prince's family were read, followed by another statement from Southport Police Officer Mike Szendrey, one of two other officers for whom Maness was also convicted of attempted murder and firing upon after shooting Prince, 36, three times with his own gun shortly after 1 a.m. on Jan. 18, 2005.
Superior Court Judge D. Jack Hooks Jr. had Maness stand and ordered the Burlington fugitive sentenced to death after receiving the Columbus County jury's unanimous punishment recommendation.
Hooks ordered that Maness be taken to the state penitentiary in Raleigh, “to be put to death as by law provided, and may God have mercy on his soul.”
The case will automatically be appealed to the North Carolina Supreme Court.
Three hours earlier, it seemed the jury had opted for a life prison sentence without parole when the seven-man, five-woman jury emerged after an hour and a half of deliberations shortly after noon Tuesday at the courthouse.
The jury foreman announced they had a verdict, then responded that it was unanimous. According to the decisions marked on the verdict form handed to Hooks and the clerk of court, the jury had returned a recommendation of life imprisonment.
But when Hooks polled the jurors individually, eight of them responded, “no,” when he asked if they consented to that unanimous recommendation.
At 12:25 p.m., Hooks ordered them to return to the jury room and continue deliberations until they had reached a unanimous verdict.
Hooks also denied several motions from Maness' defense lawyers that a mistrial be declared.
Defense attorney Rick Miller of the N.C. Capital Defender's Office in Wilmington argued the jurors had an opportunity to witness Maness' family's happy reaction and other emotions from Prince's family when they thought he had received a life sentence.
“I think that's prejudicial,” Miller said.
Defense lawyer Kevin Peters cited another juror who first answered “yes,” then changed “within minutes” her response to “no.”
After a lunch break, Miller further argued, “They did return a verdict, your honor.”
“It is not a verdict until it is unanimous,” Hooks responded.
At 2 p.m., Hooks told the jurors since their earlier announcement wasn't unanimous, “I direct you to return and resume deliberations.”
The jury later returned with the death verdict. This time when they were polled, each answered “yes” when Hooks asked each individually if that was their “unanimous recommendation as to the sentence of this defendant, Darrell Wayne Maness, death.”
“You have completed your duties and are discharged,” Hooks announced at 3:30 p.m.
After the 11-day trial ended Tuesday afternoon, District Attorney Rex Gore said the verdict did what verdicts are supposed to do.
“The people who put their lives on the line deserve protection, deserve to be recognized,” he said. “It's a sad day for a 20-year-old young man, but he's the person who made all the decisions that brought all of us to this place and this time.”
Gore said it's apparent the jury thought long and hard, including the unusual situation where they had to return to deliberating after indicating the life sentence was not appropriate.
“I'm not sure that there are any winners in cases where someone had to die to reach this point,” Gore said. “But Mitch Prince's life had value.”
The way the jury handled the capital punishment case “illustrates just how complicated that process is,” he said.
Monday, defense attorneys argued for a life imprisonment sentence for Maness.
“I'm not angry at Darrell anymore,” Miller said in his opening statement. “I don't fear Darrell anymore.”
When he first met Maness on the day of the shooting, Miller said he was angry and fearful.
“I've had time to learn more about Darrell,” he said. “We know more things about Darrell from the evidence so far. On the night in question, Darrell didn't set out to harm anybody. He didn't have a plan. We know from the evidence.”
Maness' maternal grandmother, Yvonne Hill, testified Maness had a difficult childhood in which both his parents and his stepfather had problems with drugs.
Tidwell, she said, “wasn't much of a mother.”
Hill also cited her and her husband's own problems with alcoholism and said Maness' paternal grandfather beat him with a whip.
Maness' aunt, Teresa Ashe, said Tidwell didn't have the proper parenting skills “that most people instill with their children because we was never taught that.”
A tearful Tidwell also testified, her voice quavering as she answered questions.
When Maness was in day care, operators there complained about his behavior, she said.
“They told me they had a lot of problems with Darrell Wayne,” she said. “He was doing bad things, throwing things, being mean to other kids.”
She said she blamed herself “because I wasn't there for him.”
Assistant District Attorney Lee Bollinger told the jury it would be up to them to weigh the mitigating and aggravating factors in the case.
“It's a job that's going to require you to have grit, steel in your hearts and some iron in your thinking,” he said. “It's appropriate this case is not about mercy to Darrell Wayne Maness. It's not a case about Darrell Wayne Maness showing mercy to Mitch Prince when he was begging for his life. It's not about grace. It's a case simply about justice.”
Defense attorney Peters said the death and life sentences are both substantial punishments.
“A verdict of life without parole is a verdict that starts today,” he said. “It opens the possibility of something positive happening.”
Maness, he said, will be able to tell other young boys about “bad choices, mistakes. He can tell them, ‘Don't do it. Get out and make something of your life.' Something good can come through that can't come just with death.”
Defense attorney Mike Ramos, urging the jury to choose life without parole, said the case is about mercy, to show something better than what was done to Prince.
“We hope you're better than that,” he said. “There's opportunity in your lives to show true mercy. You have the life of a young man literally in your hands.”
Maness was found guilty Friday of first-degree murder for Prince's shooting death after about two hours of jury deliberations.
Maness hung his head and cried as the verdict was read finding him guilty of first-degree murder for Prince's killing during a routine traffic stop on Highway 87, in addition to a charge of robbery with a firearm against Prince.
Maness was also found guilty of two additional counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill and two counts of assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer against Szendrey and Oak Island police Sgt. Carl Pearson as events unfolded that morning following Prince's shooting.
Maness was found not guilty on the same three charges against Caswell Beach police officer David Felts in connection with a subsequent shoot-out that morning behind the Port Motel off Long Beach Road.
Tidwell, Ashe and Maness' younger sister, sitting behind Maness in the courtroom, clutched each other and sobbed as the verdict was read.
Copyright © 2006. The Brunswick Beacon®
04-06-06, 11:42 AM #2Indy Guest
Thank god they found a jury that was willing to do what needed to be done.
May the officer rest in peace, not this POS.
04-06-06, 05:17 PM #3Bearcat06 Guest
I hope the bastard roasts in hell........
04-06-06, 06:56 PM #4FishTail Guest
That POS got what he deserved. Wish we did it here.
04-06-06, 07:23 PM #5Maness, he said, will be able to tell other young boys about “bad choices, mistakes. He can tell them, ‘Don't do it. Get out and make something of your life.' Something good can come through that can't come just with death.”"Look, just give me some inner peace or I'll mop the floor with you!"
04-06-06, 08:01 PM #6Cris1102 GuestOriginally Posted by LongTail
04-06-06, 08:27 PM #7FishTail Guest
Bad upbringing my ass...what sort of "bad upbringing" leads someone to think it's ok to kill a cop? He knew it was wrong...now he pays the price.
04-06-06, 08:30 PM #8Cris1102 GuestOriginally Posted by LongTail
04-06-06, 11:26 PM #9
Good ending to a sad situation. Unfortunately, it isn't the end of it just yet.
Like the article said (and that is normal procedure), an appeal will be made. This POS could be around for many years to come.
We had a similar situation down here years ago. We had a low-life who shot and killed a State Trooper on a traffic stop. Caught - tried - convicted - sentenced to death. This asswipe spent almost twenty years on death row before they finally threw the switch on him.
Meanwhile, while he was on death row, he was allowed conjugal visits, and fathered a child. This loser of a child (when he was grown) let it be known that he "wanted to go out just like his daddy did" - by killing a cop.
Well, he never accomplished that goal, but he is serving a life sentence for killing his girlfriend's 5 year-old child. Definitely a product of his upbringing.
I'm surprised that the asswipe in your article didn't claim that he was innocent because he was on drugs at the time. Seems like that is a more and more common claim in court.
EXCUSE ME, MR. BUTTHEAD!! Did someone MAKE you take the drugs? Or did you take them because you wanted to? So guess what. Whatever you did under the influence of those drugs is YOUR FAULT. PERIOD!!
Sorry, but I've been to too many LEO funerals over the years. If this guy was tried and convicted, smoke him. Too many good people I have known never made it home after their shift was over.
I have visited the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington. And yes, I have seen some names on it of Officers I knew. It is a very sobering experience.
Mercy for a cop killer? Not from me. That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it!
.The Swamp Mafia -"Heaven doesn't want us,and Hell's afraid we'll take over!!".
04-10-06, 09:05 AM #10
Good that this POS got what he deserved and hopefully his appeal will be denied."This flag, which we honor and under which we serve, is the emblem of our unity, our power, our thought and purpose as a nation. It has no other character than that which we give it from generation to generation." Woodrow Wilson, 1917
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