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Man pleads guilty to 2006 stabbing of Moore County woman

Johnny Cletas Maness, 53, pleaded guilty Tuesday to the 2006 stabbing of 80-year-old Ruthie Morgan.

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Johnny Maness
MOORE COUNTY, N.C. — A Moore County man pleaded guilty Tuesday to the 2006 stabbing of an 80-year-old woman.

Johnny Cletas Maness, 53, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Ruthie Morgan. A conviction carried the possibility of a death sentence.

According to the Moore County District Attorney’s Office, Maness pleaded to second-degree murder and to charges of kidnapping and robbery with a dangerous weapon by a habitual felon.

Morgan was found dead on her farm Jan. 15, 2006. Her truck was found in South Carolina, and Maness was arrested three weeks later in Texas. Authorities believe he knew Morgan. Neighbors said he may have done odd jobs for her.

At the time of his arrest, Maness’s mother said he had a history of stealing cars. His criminal record showed a previous arrest for assault.

His guilty plea carries a sentence of 519 to 558 months in prison, or 43 to 46 ½ years.

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