19-year-old suspect asks for bond in year-old North Hills murder case
Posted May 8, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — A Wake County judge on Thursday set a $1 million bond for a 19-year-old murder suspect who's agreed to testify against her two co-defendants – both facing a possible death sentence for killing a young mother inside her Raleigh apartment a year ago.
Sarah Rene Redden – charged in the May 14, 2013, death of 30-year-old Melissa Huggins-Jones – asked for a $250,000 bond so she could get out of jail to be with her young daughter. But Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens denied the request, opting for the higher bond amount, he said, because he is concerned for her safety.
"Obviously, they may have friends and associates who may well let Ms. Redden know how disappointed they are at the fact that she's cooperating with police. She will be subjected to incredible potential threats and potential harm, as would her child," Stephens said. "The best place for her right now – the safest place for her right now – is for her to wait this out in custody."
Redden, along with Ronald Lee Anthony, 24, and Travion Devonte Smith, 21, have been in the Wake County jail without bond since they were arrested May 22, 2013, – eight days after Huggins-Jones' 8-year-old daughter found her dead from repeated blows to her head and neck in their Allister North Hills apartment off Six Forks Road.
Anthony and Smith are currently scheduled to go to trial in March.
Redden said Thursday that she was in a romantic relationship with one of her co-defendants and admitted to "bad choices in guys."
“I’m not going to get in trouble," she told Stephens when he asked her why he should set such a low bond. "I know I have done some things I shouldn’t have done. I’m a good person. I’ve learned a lot."
"I’m angry because an innocent person died so you can learn something," Stephens told Redden.
Police have said they don't think Huggins-Jones knew her alleged attackers, and although they haven't publicly commented on a motive, court documents suggest burglary might have been a factor in the case.
According to documents, the patio door of her upper-level apartment had been unlocked and a laptop stolen from a model apartment a floor below linked the suspects to the crime.
Also, at a December hearing, prosecutors said the suspects had been breaking into cars in the area and that Anthony and Smith allegedly broke into the lower level apartment and scaled the wall to get into Huggins-Jones' home.
Redden, they said, served as a lookout at a different apartment complex.
Her parents, who were in court Thursday, declined to comment.
Huggins-Jones' parents were also in court, speaking publicly about their daughter's death for the first time.
"We're Melissa' s voice and face," her mother Dawn Sevey Wallace said. "We have to be here for her. She can't be here."
"I feel like we're moving in the right direction, and we just want justice to be served," she went on to say.
Family members say Huggins-Jones, a mother of two, had moved with her daughter just weeks earlier from Tennessee to Raleigh.
"She was just a wonderful person," Wallace said, adding that she was actively involved in her community and church.
"Melissa was a good Christian woman," her stepfather Steve Wallace said. "She was a great mother to her two children who now have to grow up without her. She was a great daughter. She was just an unforgettable person, and it's a devastating loss for all our family."