Oxford, N.C. — A Granville County man accused of killing his wife and setting their home on fire in September 2008 avoided a potential death sentence when he pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder in the case.
William Scott Morris was arrested Nov. 16, 2009, on charges of first-degree murder and fraudulently burning a dwelling, in connection with the death of his wife, Kelly Morris, 28.
Under his plea, he was sentenced to 13 to 16 years in prison.
"It was not what we wanted. It was not what we hoped for," Kelly Morris' father, Pat Currin, said after the plea. "But we are realists. We knew we didn't have a murder weapon. We knew we couldn't prove where she was killed. We couldn't really prove anything."
Her parents said the deal was in the best interest of their two grandchildren.
"We have two little girls who want to know what happened to their mother," Kelly Morris' stepmother, Juanita Currin said. They want to know what happened to their mother. For 33 months, all we have been able to tell them is we don't know."
In a written statement delivered in court, Juanita Currin said she believes Scott Morris killed his wife while the children were upstairs in their bedrooms and that she doesn’t believe he acted alone.
"Scott did not give Kelly the opportunity or chance to live a normal life," she said in the statement. "Instead, he took her life and devastated the lives of all those who loved her. Second-degree murder does not and will not provide justice for Kelly. Scott's plea to second-degree murder does not give us or her children answers."
Kelly Morris was last seen Sept. 3, 2008. The following day, the house she shared with her family, at 3220 Tump Wilkins Road in Stem, caught fire. Hours later, investigators found her car about a mile from her home with her keys, purse and cell phone inside.
Her skeletal remains were found Nov. 16, 2009, in the Tar River Fox Pen in southern Granville County, her family has said.
An autopsy couldn't determine how Kelly Morris died but the state medical examiner concluded that she "most likely" was killed.
Authorities have not offered a motive for the slaying, but in search warrant affidavits related to the case, investigators allege that the couple had marital problems and were considering divorce.