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Murder Plea Closes 1 of 4 Cases in Durham Slaying

Posted November 6, 2007

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— A Raleigh man pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder in a deal that will spare him the death penalty the state had promised to seek if he went to trial.

Anthony Rankins, 41, pleaded guilty to killing retired Durham businessman Edwin Knowles in July 2006. Durham District Attorney David Saacks says Rankins was the triggerman in the murder.

Rankins was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole and then two consecutive sentences of 146-185 months for armed robbery and burglary.

Knowles was found murdered in his Bahama home. He had been beaten and shot. Saacks said his family suggested the plea to give Rankins life and not pursue the death penalty.

Christy Crittenton, 33, of Creedmoor; Brian Courtney Brooks, 38, of Garner; and Christopher Brooks, 41, of Garner, also face charges of first-degree murder and first-degree robbery in the case.

Prosecutors had hoped to seek the death penalty against Crittenton, but a judge ruled out that option in June.

Authorities said they and Rankins stole jewelry, watches and currency from Knowles' home.

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