Orange County Man To Spend Life In Prison For Triple Murder
Posted February 12, 2003 6:29 a.m. EST
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. — An Orange County man accused in a triple murder pleaded guilty in court Wednesday and will face life in prison.
An investigator testified in court that Alan Gates confessed to the crimes. In July, investigators said Gates went to the trailer of his wife, who had a domestic order out against him. Investigators say while Gates waited for his wife, his daughter, Valerie, her friend Cordae Lee and Lee's 2-year-old son arrived at the home.
Investigators say Gates forced them into a bedroom and shot them to death.
Investigators say when Gates' wife came home, he found her husband asleep in the bedroom. Defense attorneys claim Gates was drunk at the time and did not intend to kill anyone at the trailer.
During tearful testimony, the victim's relatives described how the murders have torn their families apart.
"If Valerie could give her mother a Valentine's Day card, it would say, 'It's OK now. Daddy can't hurt us again,'" said Linda Horne, Valerie's aunt.
Gates was also in tears when he stood to make a statement.
"I don't understand how one little woman could drive a man to do such a thing," he said.
Gates' words infuriated the families of his victims.
"I think it's despicable, trying to blame someone else for what he did," said Fran Bumgarner, Kendall Dianis' grandmother.
As part of his plea, Gates will avoid the death penalty, which is fine for some family members.
"We discussed it as a family and we thought the death penalty was too good for him. It's the easy way out," said Keisha Harris, Lee's sister.
After the trial, Gates was taken back to Central Prison.