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Mays Begins The Fight For His Life

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RALEIGH — A Wake County jury is now considering the fate of Kawame Mays, who was found guilty Wednesday of the first degree murder of Raleigh Police Detective Paul Hale.

During the sentencing phase, the prosecution has been portraying Mays as a troubled youth, who may have even had a drug problem. The defense paints a picture of Mays as someone who is full of remorse.

Family members testified about Mays' childhood Thursday. He was adopted as a one-year-old, and his family says he had problems even then. They took him to doctors, sent him to special schools, and reported crimes to police, but they say he continued to resist authority.

Guelda Mays remembers visiting her son at Central Prison after the murders of Detective Hale and Michael Walker. "He cried, and he said he just doesn't know why he did what he did," she said.

"He knew that the family would be upset with him because he disappointed them," his Great-Aunt said in her testimony. "He said 'I don't even realize what happened.'" Dorothy Ellis also testified Mays told her he did not know Hale was a police officer when he shot him.

Thursday afternoon, the defense called psychiatrists who examined Mays, and testified about his childhood.

After the defense rests, the jury will hear closing arguments, then the Judge's instructions. The jury could begin deliberating Friday. The panel will have to choose between life in prison, or death.

The jury deliberated the sentence for 14 and a half hours. They had taken a break and reported they were not sure they would reach a verdict Wednesday. However, soon after that statement, the jury came back with the guilty verdict.

"We didn't want a hung jury," defense attorney Johnny Gaskins said. "We wanted this jury to decide this case. We can now go forward and have them do that."

The jurors found him guilty under the felony murder rule, committing a murder during a felony. In this case, the felony was assaulting another police officer.

"We're pleased with verdict," Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said. "The jury had followed the evidence. They did it in a very careful, deliberate way, and we're glad they've arrived at the verdict."

This was a very emotional day for Connie Hale, Paul Hale's widow. She has been waiting a long time for the verdict. A verdict many people felt would never come.

For many the verdict was a long awaited answer to a painful journey.

"I am absolutely exhilarated," Hale's former partner Det. Pat Niemann said. "It's been a tough time period. I'm very pleased with the jury. They considered the evidence, the facts and they brought back the only verdict that I can see as logical."

In May of 1998, a jury deadlocked on that charge but convicted Mays of the first degree murder of Michael Walker.

The sentencing phase of the trial begins Thursday. The jury will hear more evidence, and then they will have to decide whether Mays gets the death penalty or life in prison.

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Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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