RALEIGH, N.C. — Jurors found an Apex man guilty of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of Wake County Deputy Mark Tucker.
Matthew Grant sat with his head up as the judge read the jury's verdict. After the verdict was read, members of Tucker's family stood together and said a prayer. Plus, Pat Tucker, Mark's wife, hugged Gail Grant, Matthew's grandmother who adopted him at an early age.
"There is a sense of relief that it is behind us and it is over the greatest part of it, but it does not alter the fact that a lot of lives that have been altered by this," Pat Tucker said.
"There are no winners in this, as I have said since the beginning. Both families have suffered and will continue to suffer, but I feel justice has been done. I think there is some closure to the Tucker family," Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said.
In February 2004, authorities said Grant was on probation at the time of the shooting that occurred in a field near Tucker's Holly Springs home and was not supposed to have a firearm.
Authorities said Grant shot and killed Tucker when the deputy stopped to see what he was doing.
Prosecutors said Grant planned to kill Tucker to avoid going to prison. Defense attorneys admit Grant shot Tucker, but it was not premeditated and said he should be charged with second-degree murder. The defense also presented witnesses that claim Grant had a troubled childhood.
Jurors had been deliberating since Tuesday afternoon. They returned their verdict around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
"I think the verdict was in keeping with the evidence. I thought that was appropriate. That was what we had said all along and the evidence was clear," district attorney Colon Willoughby said.
"I don't think about him too much without crying about it. I love my dad for who he was -- the man he was. I look at that and I smile big because I share that same Tucker smile," said Matthew Tucker, Mark's son.
The trial now enters the penalty phase, in which jurors will decide whether Grant should receive life in prison or the death penalty. Jurors are expected to return for that part of the trial on Nov. 29.