Local News

Final suspect pleads guilty in Brittany Willis murder case

Posted June 2, 2009

— A third man charged nearly five years ago in connection with the rape and murder of a Wilson teenager on Monday received a 45-day suspended sentence in the case.

Julian Tyson Deans, who was originally charged as an accessory after the fact of first-degree murder, entered an Alford plea to misdemeanor obstruction of justice.

In an Alford plea, a defendant pleads guilty, while maintaining his or her innocence, and admits it is in his or her best interest to take the plea deal because there is sufficient evidence that could find him or her guilty.

Deans also received a prayer for judgment continued, meaning if he is ever charged with or convicted of another crime, the state could ask the court to impose an additional sentence in the Willis case.

Brittany Willis, 17 when she died, was kidnapped from a Wilson shopping center on June 28, 2004, and driven in her SUV to a field where she was raped and shot once in the back and once in the head.

Two men, Kenneth Meeks and James Johnson, were initially charged with murder, rape and kidnapping. Prosecutors said Dean was present when Meeks hid the gun used in the slaying.

Meeks plead guilty in April 2006 and is serving a life sentence in prison.

Johnson, who entered an Alford plea in February to a lesser charge of failing to notify authorities of a felony, was jailed under a $1 million bond on the initial charges for more than three years.

The handling of his case by the state and Wilson police detectives attracted the attention of civil rights groups that claimed prosecutorial misconduct and that race was a factor in the case – Johnson is black; Willis was white.

Former Wilson County District Attorney Howard Boney said last month that his office handled the case appropriately

Dean's sentence Monday closes the Willis case.

Willis, a senior at Hunt High School, played varsity volleyball and soccer player. She was planning to attend Peace College in Raleigh.


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  • whatusay Jun 2, 2009

    This is why citizens have lost their respect and trust in our legal system.

  • La_Grange_Dude Jun 2, 2009

    The DA and judge in this case should be sitting in jail right along side of the punks that committed this crime.

  • kebsmom Jun 2, 2009

    Sorry, I believe Johnson is just as guilty as Meeks. Even IF he was just there when it happened (which I don't believe that was his only involvement)he did nothing to try to stop it. He is just as guilty as Meeks and should have at least been sentenced the same. As for this last guy 45 days is not enough for keeping quiet about a murder and rape. Our justice system stinks!

  • Lissa13082 Jun 2, 2009

    wow... that's all I can say... I can't believe they even MENTIONED it being a racial issue!!!!

  • FoxtrotUniformCharlieKiloakaCALM Jun 2, 2009

    Seems like you can get away with anything these days.

  • bjtcookiebutt08 Jun 2, 2009

    no, they should have been raped by a big ugly dude and then shot in the head.

  • aspenstreet1717 Jun 2, 2009

    2 should have received death the other 20 years.

  • TeresaBee Jun 2, 2009

    I sit here with tears in my eyes that this poor girl was raped and murdered. How someone could care less for a life is despicable.

  • didisaythat Jun 2, 2009

    I guess they updated this since the original posts...because it does say his involvement. He was present when the suspect hid the gun. Now I don't know what happened in court , but it does not appear in the story he was present with the victim. If he would have been around the victim at anytime then I would be mad about the sentence.

  • shortcake53 Jun 2, 2009

    Please tell me i misunderstood this......... he plead guilty to aiding in a rape and murder and gets 45 days suspended??? are you blanking kidding me??????