Among those charges, Derrick Canaday pleaded no contest to second-degree murder charges in the death of his girlfriend, Merritt Ennis.
Authorities believe Canaday beat Ennis to death and then dumped her body along Interstate 40 in May 2004.
Canaday could have been charged with first-degree murder. His plea Thursday, however, resulted in 17 to 23 years in prison. While he had a chance to address the court, he chose not to do so.
Prosecutors said Canaday told them a different account about what happened. They said he told them that he picked up Ennis after a concert at Alltel Pavilion in Raleigh and that they argued, hit each other and that she jumped from the moving vehicle herself near the Sampson-Johnston county line.
Ennis' family members said the developments in the case bring them closure, even though they will never know the truth about what happened. They said they very much appreciated the community's support and are now focusing on raising the 18-month-old child that Ennis left behind.
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