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Closing arguments begin in North Hills murder trial

Posted February 15
Updated February 16

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— After being delayed by winter weather Monday, closing arguments began Tuesday morning in the murder trial of Travion Smith, a 23-year-old who is charged with the first-degree murder of a woman in her North Hills apartment in May 2013.

Smith is one of three people charged with first-degree murder in connection to Melissa Huggins-Jones' death and could face the death penalty if convicted.

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.

On Friday, Lauren Scott, associate chief medical examiner, said Huggins-Jones sustained 18 blows to her head, neck and upper torso, and she eventually bled out.

“(Huggins-Jones) would have known that she would have had these injuries and likely would have known she was beginning to lose consciousness from the loss of blood from the injuries,” Scott said.

Scott said that the wounds—12 to the head and face and six to the upper torso—were consistent with sharp- and blunt-force trauma. Scott traced a line with her finger across her own face as she described one injury to Huggins-Jones as a “gaping laceration” that ran 4 inches across the victim’s nose and right cheek.

Huggins-Jones’ death, though, was a result of the all of the injuries, rather than one fatal blow.

After the state rested its case late Friday morning, Smith told the court he would not testify in the trial, and the defense said it would not present any evidence.

Following closing arguments, the jury, made up of six white females, five white males and one Asian male, will begin deliberations.


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