Local News

Man pleads guilty in slaying of Durham Sunday School teacher

Posted March 5, 2010 9:35 a.m. EST

— The suspect in the slaying of a Durham Sunday School teacher took a plea deal Thursday that allowed him to escape a first-degree murder charge but ensured that he will spend time in prison.

Jameel Rasaun Thorton, 28, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and armed robbery in the Dec. 26, 2008, death of 41-year-old Trevor Spain.

Thorton was sentenced to between 27 and 34 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $25,000 in restitution.

Prosecutors said that Spain's family agreed to the plea deal both in the spirit of mercy and to guarantee a conviction.

Spain's father found him face-down in a pool of blood in the basement of the family home, at 1301 Shepherd St., police said. An autopsy said that he had been stabbed multiple times in the chest, neck, cheek and arm.

Several items were taken, including two TVs, cash and a DVD player. Police have described Thorton as an acquaintance of Spain.

Spain had been an active member of Morehead Avenue Baptist Church since his childhood, according to Pastor Charles Barnes. He was the "hardest-working parishioner," Barnes said shortly after Spain's death. He was a trustee of the church, a choir member and active member of the men's fellowship.

Friends described Spain's passion for interior decorating and how he decorated his church for Christmas. He worked as a leasing manager of Carriage House Apartments, his family said.