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Man pleads guilty in Progress Energy worker's slaying

Posted August 14, 2008

— A man charged with killing a Progress Energy employee nearly two years ago pleaded guilty Thursday to first-degree murder, avoiding what could have been a lengthy trial and a possible death sentence.

Antonio Davon Chance, 30, was sentenced to life in prison for the Aug. 22, 2006, kidnapping, rape and murder of Cynthia Moreland, 48, who police say was on her way to work when she was taken from a downtown-parking garage.

Authorities found Moreland dead behind an abandoned barn in Harnett County on Sept. 1.

The courtroom was packed Thursday afternoon with family and friends of both Moreland and Chance.

Chance, wearing a green sweater and khakis, was expressionless when Superior Court Judge Jack Spencer questioned him.

He did not address the court, but as he left the courtroom, yelled to his mother: "Don't cry, Momma. Only God can save me."

Earlier, Moreland's widower, Walter Moreland, told the court that although he is a man of compassion, forgiving Chance was impossible.

"I'm so angry. I'm so mad. I've got so much hate in my heart, and I can't vent like I want to," Moreland said. "The only way I can vent is to cry."

Moreland's daughter, Keisha Moreland Mangum, recounted to Spencer how she had a bad feeling the day her mother died and knew something was wrong when Moreland did not reply to an e-mail from her.

Moreland had stopped by her daughter's house that morning to drop off jelly for her grandson's sandwich, Mangum said. She did not see her mother then, and instead had talked to her for the last time on the phone.

"I mean, there's not a day or a minute that goes by that I don't think about her," Mangum said. "She's with me all the time."

The capital case was scheduled to go to trial earlier this year, but it was delayed because Chance's attorneys wanted a pre-trial hearing to determine whether he was mentally retarded. Prosecutors wanted a jury to decide the matter.

Psychologists for both the state and defense ultimately  found he met the state's criteria, which are an IQ below 70 and issues with adaptive functioning.

"You can't tell me that this person doesn't know right from wrong," Walter Moreland said. "And it's all because of a number you deem him retarded. And I deem him one of Satan's angels."

"Mental retardation is not an excuse for what he did. It is not a defense," Chance's attorney, Bryan Collins, said. "It did not cause him to commit this crime. But he took responsibility and he will face the only punishment he can receive under the law."

A medical examiner said Moreland was likely strangled, although her body was so badly decomposed that it was impossible to say how she died.

Assistant District Attorney Susan Spurlin said Thursday that Morgan's car entered the parking garage beneath Progress Energy's headquarters at 6:40 a.m. Aug. 22, and that surveillance video showed Chance in the garage. A witness, she said, later saw the car leave the garage with two people inside.

Spurlin also said witnesses saw Moreland's car in a ditch near where her body was found and that Chance waved them on when they tried to stop for help. Moreland was in the passenger seat, the prosecutor said, staring straight ahead.

When a passer-by called a tow truck for Chance, Moreland was nowhere to be found. Chance used her check to pay the tow-truck service, Spurlin said.

Raleigh police arrested Chance the next day after he tried to use Moreland's debit card at BP-McDonald's on Fayetteville Road and then again at a Dollar General store.

Each time, he was captured on surveillance video wearing a distinctive striped shirt that had been seen on a tape from the parking garage.

"He has always had a strong sense of remorse for what he did," Collins said. "He's never tried to avoid responsibility for it. He just did not want to be executed, as you can understand."

62 Comments

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  • james27613 Aug 15, 2008

    His IQ is not relevant, he just did not test well.

    Life is too easy for him, if he was a real man he would
    step up and take the lethal injection.

    Ladies:
    Take self defense classes, learn how NOT to be a victim.

    What will your family do if your life is taken ?

  • pebbles262004 Aug 15, 2008

    He did not want to be excuted...her family did not want their wife and mother killed either. I did't know we got to pick and choose how we die when we kill someone, no wonder people are killing people just because they don't like the way they look.

  • thefensk Aug 15, 2008

    I don't understand the concept of accepting a guilty plea as a means of avoiding the death penalty. Oh, I understand "deals" and avoiding a lengthy trial ... is it a trade-off? Not sure.

    In a case as callous as this, I think he should be allowed to express his guilt on the stand in front of a jury and let them decide his fate.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Aug 15, 2008

    If the Criminal Justice System continues to get worse with how they punish murderers/rapists, you can bet that vigilantism will only grow in time. The public will begin to exact their own punishment on criminals. And it would be VERY hard for me, as a juror, to ever convict someone for taking care of a "bad element". You can bet that if I were put in a situation with a family member being severely harmed, and the justice system not stepping up to the plate, I would come through bigtime.

  • enoughsenough Aug 15, 2008

    "This does go to reinforce the statement that if you are ever assaulted / or involved in an attempted kidnapping, etc - DO NOT let the attacker take you to a second location. Nothing good ever comes from that. They end up controlling all the surroundings and your chances to ever regain any control or catch a break are almost ZERO. Fight like a crazy person and DO NOT ever get in the car."... That is so very true, if they are going to harm u let them do it there where u can get some help. Does little good to scream when you are isolated in the woods or field somewhere being raped and strangled/stabbed to death where u are at their mercy.

  • Eduardo1 Aug 14, 2008

    too bad that the taxpayers must support this vermin for the
    next 40 years:TV, Library, exercise equipment,medical,etc. Some day a loophole will be found and he will walk the streets again

  • celong Aug 14, 2008

    He did not want to be executed, as you can understand....what I say is she did not want to be murdered.

    Now I know China cheated with those young, barely teen athletes, but we could learn a bit on how they take care of criminals. No wonder they now are number 2 in organ transplant.

    You know if my life were on the line, I/d miss a few questions too...

  • smegma Aug 14, 2008

    another one our taxes have to pay for for the rest of his life. he'll make good friends in prison and life will be a breeze with a tv, radio, posters, candy, and hot food in his cell

  • howdiditgettothis Aug 14, 2008

    could not have said it better than drnc.

    obviously, his "retardation" didn't stand in the way of anything else....

  • drnc Aug 14, 2008

    He knew how to kidnap her. He knew how to driver her car. He knew how to find a secluded area. He knew how to rape her. He new how to strangle her. He knew how to dump her dead body. He knew how to pay a tow truck driver to get her car unstuck. He knew how to use her debit card - twice. Yet he is deemed "legally retarded" by our bleeding-heart legislature. Her family will never have closure as long as the killer draws air.

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