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Authorities deem man's fatal heart attack a homicide

Posted September 9, 2009

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— A medical examiner has ruled the death of a man who suffered a fatal heart attack after a home invasion last week to be a homicide, police said Tuesday.

Alton Lee Harper, 57, collapsed in his home and died shortly after chasing a man who had broken into his home early Friday. His daughter told police that a man broke in, pointed a gun at her and her father, demanded money and fled with a lock box that she handed over to him.

An autopsy determined that Alton Harper's heart attack was brought on by the stress of the incident, and a medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Detective Tim Hathaway of the Rocky Mount Police Department at 252-972-1463 or Crime Stoppers at 252-977-1111.


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  • Adelinthe Sep 9, 2009


    Praying for the man's loved ones.

    Now go get his murderers.

    God bless.


  • itsmyownopinion Sep 9, 2009

    Murdock, the man didn't request a home invasion. A home invasion is not a prank. Get it?

  • AnotherIgnoredComment Sep 9, 2009

    This will stand up in court. They will plead down to manslaughter, do a year or two, and be back out on the street

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Sep 9, 2009

    Most definitely the criminal should be tried for murder. A person died as a direct result of the commission of a felony. I can say I'm 100% sure I would convict if I were on the jury. Now, does this rise to the level of the Death Penalty? No. But he should be imprisoned for a very long time. I believe anyone who commits an armed crime of anykind should be imprisoned for 20+ years. Unfortunately, the judges on the bench don't live up to those standards. They are too sheltered and have never been exposed to these actual crimes. If they were, they would be more stern with their sentencing. VA judges don't mess around. NC judges will let just about anyone out in no time flat.

  • AMHall82 Sep 9, 2009

    SME2, that would depend on if your "prank" was a felony or not.

  • friendlygirl Sep 9, 2009

    I absolutely agree it should be considered a homocide. Maybe some of these criminals will think about their actions BEFORE they commit the crimes.

  • murdock Sep 9, 2009

    So this guy was scared to death. This is like a guy who requests a potentially fatal drug, gets it, dies, then the autopsy rules a homicide as well. Wait, that happened already! Michael Jackson was not killed by anyone except for his own selfish gain.

  • Huey Sep 9, 2009

    SME2, playing a prank is not a crime. Robbery is. Driving is not a crime. Drunk driving is. But, like was said, with today's lawyers and judges he will probably get away with it, that is if they ever catch him.

  • kstor33 Sep 9, 2009

    By the same token...we know that we can kill someone when we get behind the wheel of a car drunk. It may not be our intention but it can and does happen. I'm glad it was ruled a homocide, too!

  • SME2 Sep 9, 2009

    I doubt this stands up in court.

    The suspect did not know he had an obvious heart condition and no one made him run after the suspect.

    If I play a prank on someone to scare them and they die of a heart attack am I guilty of murder/homicide/manslaughter as well?