Kathy Arnold Taft, 62, a longtime member of the North Carolina State Board of Education, was raped and brutally beaten March 6, 2010, while recovering from surgery at a friend's home in Raleigh. She died three days later.
Jason Keith Williford was an out-of-work amateur musician who lived less than a quarter-mile from where Taft was staying when he broke into the home and attacked her. In April 2010, police charged him with first-degree rape and first-degree murder after linking him to the crime using DNA from a discarded cigarette butt.
Prosecutors unsuccessfully sought the death penalty against Williford, who was found guilty of first-degree murder on June 1, 2012. He will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.