Local News

Admitted lookout sentenced to prison in 2013 North Hills murder

Posted April 18, 2016

— Under a plea agreement, a Wake Forest woman pleaded guilty Monday to accessory after the fact of first-degree murder in the beating death of Melissa Huggins-Jones, who was killed in her North Hills apartment in 2013.

Sarah Rene Redden was sentenced to 4-and-a-half to 6-and-a-half years in prison.

Redden, who was 18-year-old at the time of the murder, admitted to being the lookout on the night Huggins-Jones was killed by Travion Smith and her former boyfriend, Ronald Anthony. Smith was convicted of first-degree murder in the case in February, and Anthony pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in 2015.

Redden's attorney said the now 21-year-old wants the chance to parent her young son and pursue an education. She also said that Redden has nothing to do with the killing, and did not tell police because she was afraid of Anthony.

"(Redden) has accepted responsibility, for primarily what she did not do, after the murder," defense attorney Rosemary Godwin said. "If not for Ronald Anthony, (Redden) would never have seen the inside of a court room."

Dawn Wallace, Huggins-Jones' mother, said her family is happy to have this chapter of their lives behind them, and is thankful to be finished with the arduous court process.

"Four-and-a-half to 6-and-a-half years is not much, but I hope (Redden) can get an education and come out to raise her child to be a good person," Wallace said.

Redden also pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of breaking and entering a motor vehicle. She was sentenced to 24 months of supervised probation for those charges.

Redden was arrested in 2013 and will get credit for time served.

Prosecutors said Redden cooperated and testified for the state in Smith's trial, a case Godwin said would not have been successful without her help.

"I do find that you aided through your truthful testimony in the conviction of others responsible for these offenses," Judge Paul Ridgeway told Redden.

Experts testified during Smith's trial that Huggins-Jones suffered 18 blows to the face, neck and body the night she was murdered in May 2013.

Huggins-Jones was new to the Triangle, having divorced and moved from Tennessee to an apartment complex off Six Forks Road, in the North Hills area, with her 8-year-old daughter, Hannah Olivia Jones. Her son had stayed behind with his father in Tennessee to finish the school year.

On the morning of May 14, 2013, Hannah wandered out of the apartment and approached a nearby construction crew, asking for help. A construction worker followed the girl back into the apartment and found Huggins-Jones dead in her bed, covered in blood.

Redden testified against Smith in February, saying she was the lookout for Smith and Anthony.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Chance Loria Apr 18, 2016
    user avatar

    Obviously she received a lesser charge and sentence due to her cooperation. Had she not cooperated the actual murders may have gone free. I'm sure this was run by the family first.

  • Crystal Czeck Apr 18, 2016
    user avatar

    She has to live with what she helped do, every single day. If she is any kind of human being, that will eat away at her for the rest of her life.

  • Janet Ghumri Apr 18, 2016
    user avatar

    This is a tragedy from all standpoints. It should serve as a eye opener for teens and young adults, for the old saying that "you're known by the company you keep". Becoming involved with the bad boys and the 'gangsta' crowd can cost you more than you think.

  • Spaine Stephens Apr 18, 2016
    user avatar

    Just an observation, but I'm sure Melissa Huggins-Jones would also "want the chance to parent" her children too.

  • Mary Meadows Apr 18, 2016
    user avatar

    I think the sentence was appropriate. You have to consider the mitigating factors, her age, etc. the other 2 individuals involved should have gotten the death penalty. For those of you wanting her to do significant time keep a few things in mind: she would be released back into society, regardless of the length of sentence due to her age and the charge she pled guilty to. She will be punished pretty harshly as that length of time I am sure will drag on considerably for her. But if the goal is both punishment and rehabilitation then you need to strike a balance. If she was in there for 20 years or so she would come out very institutionalized and the chances of her becoming a contributing member of society one day would be very slim. Just my thoughts.

  • Phillip Mozingo Apr 18, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Yes at 18 we all did stupid things, but nothing as serious as a look out for a murderer. You smoking crack or something?

  • Steve Clark Apr 18, 2016
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Interesting facebook name - I suspect it's fake, so that you can post completely anonymously... but anyway.. I'm curious... this was a felony murder.. what sentence do you think is appropriate for the 'lookout' ?

    I don't agree that she should be executed... but I think this girl should be in prison for more than 4.5-6.5... what say you?

  • Johnathan Gault Apr 18, 2016
    user avatar

    At 18 you do stupid things. Prison is not a slap on the wrist. We now live in a civilized society and do not take a "dark ages," approach to punishment. I do find that those who are the most sanctimonious are the ones who have skeletons of their own. I am afraid the compassionate and intellectual must ask you to extinguish your torches and return the pitchforks to the tool shed.

  • Phillip Mozingo Apr 18, 2016
    user avatar

    She should get at least 20 years for being the lookout! She knew what the possibilities were.

  • Steven Gandy Apr 18, 2016
    user avatar

    She only watched? Execute her last and let her "watch" the others get executed.