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Convicted rapist takes plea deal during trial for fatal fire

Posted April 3, 2011

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— A convicted rapist has agreed to serve at least 11 years in prison for setting a fire that killed a Halifax County woman in her home nearly four years ago.

The Daily Herald of Roanoke Rapids reports that Anthony Bernard Perkins, 37, reached a plea deal with prosecutors Friday even as a jury deliberated his fate on a murder charge after a two-week trial.

Perkins agreed to an Alford plea to second-degree murder in 68-year-old Margaret Dabbs' death in a fire in May 2007. By taking that plea, Perkins doesn't admit guilt but acknowledges that a jury would likely find him guilty. He will serve 11 to 14 years in prison.

Prosecutors say Perkins set the fire to get back at Dabbs' daughter because she was seeing another man. The man and the daughter escaped the fire.

Perkins was convicted in 1992 of second-degree rape and second-degree sexual offense involving an adult woman, according to state Department of Correction records.

He served 10 years in prison and was cited for 59 infractions, including assault person with a weapon, fighting, provoke assault, weapon possession and lock tampering.

DOC records show that he was also convicted of resisting an officer in 2005 and put on probation.

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