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Plea Bargain Reduces First-Degree Murder Charge to Involuntary Manslaughter

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DURHAM — Courtroom pleas are part of the legal process. Imagine a man charged with first-degree murder only getting three months in jail. It happened Thursday in Durham.

Alvin Sales strangled Yvette Perry in February 2000. Defense attorneys and the judge said it was self-defense. But Perry's mother, Dorothy Fenner, disagrees.

"He strangled her with his hands," she says. "You murder somebody and you get three months? That was my child. I loved that child."

Perry and Sales lived together in a Durham house. Police say there was a history of arguments and drugs. Then, early one Saturday morning last February, he strangled her.

Police charged Sales with first-degree murder, placing him under electronic house arrest until his trial. Durham then canceled its house arrest program, basically freeing Sales. He was only under curfew until Thursday's plea bargain agreement.

The first-degree murder charge was dropped, replaced with involuntary manslaughter. Sales will serve three months in jail and a three-year probation.

Fenner's grief over her daughter's death is compounded with the anger of what she calls an injustice.

"Who knows what he'll do when he gets out?" she wonders. "I can't cope with that."


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