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Moore Man Gets Death Sentences for Quadruple Homicide

Posted October 17, 2007

— A Moore County jury handed up four death sentences Wednesday in the trial of a man found guilty of killing four people in a December 2003 robbery.

The jury took about four hours to decide the punishment of Mario Lynn Phillips, 35, who was the first of three people to go to trial for the quadruple homicide.

Eddie Ryals, 21, Carl Garrison Justice, 18, and Harvey Darrell Hobson, 20, all of Carthage, and Joseph Allen Harden, 19, of Vass, were killed on Dec. 19, 2003, in a mobile home on Heron Road, east of Carthage. All four had been shot and stabbed in what authorities said was a robbery. They said the three suspects made off with $170.

Amanda Cook Varner, who survived being shot twice and stabbed 22 times that day, identified Phillips as the gunman and said Renee Yvette McLaughlin and Sean Maurice Ray assisted him in the crime.

Defense attorneys tried to convince jurors that Phillips shouldn't be convicted of first-degree murder in the case because he is mentally ill, was addicted to drugs at the time and somehow thought his friends were responsible for shooting his brother in Fayetteville earlier that same day.

The sentence comes as questions about North Carolina's death penalty have put executions on hold.

In August, Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens ruled that the North Carolina Medical Board overstepped its authority when it adopted a policy that threatened to punish physicians for participating in executions.

The state Department of Correction sued the board in March, saying no physicians were willing to attend an execution, which state policy requires, for fear of losing his or her medical license.

Last month, attorneys for death-row inmates asked state officials to put off possible changes to North Carolina's execution protocol in light of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision to address the constitutionality of lethal injections.


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  • Gafan003 Oct 18, 2007

    We'll be splitting his bill for the next 15 years before they do it.

  • Groovy Oct 18, 2007

    He'll live longer on death row than he would have out on the streets. loser.

  • moose13 Oct 18, 2007

    Finally, justice being served?!?!

  • Meandmytwo Oct 18, 2007

    This day has finally come for this cold hearted killer. I know the families has some sense of release for justice finally. It took long enough. He deserves every life sentence he recieved. "Ya", for the prosecuters.

  • One Good Dad Oct 18, 2007

    Now....we will have to wait an additional 20 plus years to see it unfold. Verses somewhere like Iraq, which plays out their death sentence within 3 days.

  • jkca Oct 18, 2007

    I'm glad this is over (for now) for the victims' families. I work with one of the victim's mothers and it has been so hard on her having to endure reliving this nightmare. Unfortunatly she and the other families have to walk through another Hell when the other two murderers go to trial.

  • PikeQueen Oct 18, 2007

    I don't care if he only has 1/3 of a brain.He's a goner.

  • lancer Oct 18, 2007

    Given that the issue of execution by lethal injection is in the courts due to te Docs involved violating their oath, they will never be executed. So a lifetime at our expense.
    Why not eliminate the need for a doctor to be involved? revive the gillotine. When ones head is separated from the body, there is no need for a doctor to confirm death, and I'm sure it is less painful than some incompetant nurses aid looking fo a good vein....

  • pingman Oct 18, 2007

    What's the use in sentencing him to death? NC only allows the killing of babies!

  • La_Grange_Dude Oct 18, 2007

    Blacks are already protesting harsh prison terms for crack related offenses, saying that unfairly target the black community. I guess they will come out now to protest the death penalty because it "unfairly targets young black men". Sharpton and his followers say that "racism" is getting stronger in our nation. The way I see it, people like Al Sharpton, and Jessie Jackson are promoting racism.