Edgecombe man's appeal of murder conviction dismissed
Posted October 9, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Court of Appeals dismissed an Edgecombe County man's request for a new trial nearly two years after he was found guilty of murdering a Rocky Mount woman.
In an Aug. 27 order obtained Wednesday by WRAL News, the Appeals Court granted a state motion to dismiss Antwan Maurice Pittman's appeal of his Sept. 29, 2011, first-degree murder conviction for the death of Tahara Shenice Nicholson.
Nicholson, 28, was found dead March 7, 2009, in a wooded area about 5 miles from Pittman's childhood home. An autopsy found she had been strangled.
It took jurors less than an hour to find Pittman, 35, guilty.
The motion was granted on the basis that there was a lack of substantial constitutional questions about how the lower court ruled in the trial.
Nicholson was one of nine Rocky Mount women who had been reported missing when their bodies were found over a four-year period across three counties – many of them in locations close to where Pittman had lived at some point in his life.
A 10th woman is still missing, and although he's never been charged, authorities have previously said that he was a suspect in at least seven of the other cases.
The status of the other cases was unclear Wednesday evening.
All of the women shared similar backgrounds and physical appearances, many knew one another and many frequented an area of Rocky Mount known for drug activity and prostitution.
Medical examiners haven't been able to determine how some of the women died, and in other cases, there is little likelihood that physical evidence, such as fingerprints or DNA, could have been recovered.
In Nicholson's case, investigators were, in part, able to link Pittman to the crime through DNA since Nicholson was found days after Pittman admitted to having sex with her.
Pittman is serving a life sentence at Central Prison in Raleigh, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.