Local News

Witness links North Hills murder suspect to key piece of evidence in case

Posted February 4, 2016

— The former girlfriend of one of the men charged with first-degree murder in the 2013 death of Melissa Huggins-Jones, a mother who was killed in her North Hills apartment, took the stand Thursday morning and said she had nothing to do with the murder.

Travion Devonte Smith, 23, is on trial, charged with first-degree murder in the death of 30-year-old Huggins-Jones. Ronald Anthony pleaded guilty in 2015 to first-degree murder in the case, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Police said they were able to track down Smith and Anthony by tracking a laptop computer stolen from Huggins-Jones' apartment's leasing office the night she was murdered. The orange Lenovo laptop was posted for sale on Craigslist.

On Thursday, Amber Alberts, Anthony's girlfriend at the time of the murder, said that while the photos posted on the ad were taken on her cellphone, she had nothing to do with the crime.

"I did not know what I was really getting myself into," she said.

Alberts testified that she first saw the stolen laptop while on a lunch break from her job at a Walmart in Wake Forest. She said she met Anthony and Smith at a restaurant nearby to grab some food.

"When I first went for break they showed me they had two laptops," Alberts said. "He tried to give it to me and I said I didn't want it. I didn't want any part in what it possibly could have been."

Alberts said Anthony and Smith stayed at her home in Oxford and that she later saw them with other items that she assumed were stolen, including cellphones, chargers and an iPod.

“I’m not dumb… two people who don’t have a job aren’t going to have nice laptops,” she said.

When police later arrived to search her home, Alberts cooperated.

"(Officers) showed me pictures of the laptop and told me it was stolen and that it tied (Anthony and Smith) to a murder," Alberts said.

Police took the electronics, along with clothes and shoes from her home.

Sarah Rene Redden, of Wake Forest, is also charged in the case. She admitted to being the getaway driver the night of the murder. She is expected to take the stand Thursday afternoon.

Redden has not been offered a plea deal, however Redden's defense attorney, Rosemary Godwin, said Redden wasn't inside the apartment when Huggins-Jones was killed.

Huggins-Jones had recently divorced and moved from Tennessee to an apartment complex off Six Forks Road. She started a new job and a new life caring for her 8-year-old daughter, Hannah Olivia Jones. Huggins-Jones’ son had stayed behind with his father in Tennessee to finish the school year.

On the morning of May 14, 2013, Hannah wandered out of the apartment and approached a nearby construction crew, asking for help. A construction worker followed the girl back into the apartment and found Huggins-Jones dead in her bed, covered in blood.

An autopsy determined that she died from repeated blows to her head and neck.

If convicted, Smith, who was 20 at the time of the crime, faces the possibility of the death penalty.


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