Local News

Slain Teen's Mom: Guilty Verdict 'Justice for Danny'

Posted June 1, 2007 11:25 a.m. EDT
Updated June 1, 2007 7:32 p.m. EDT

— Sharlene Pence cried Friday morning as Superior Court Judge Ripley Rand read the verdict the verdict for her son's killer.

Todd Boggess was guilty of first-degree murder, guilty of robbery and guilty of kidnapping her 16-year-old son, Danny.

During the three days the jury deliberated Boggess' fate, she paced the courthouse hallways with friends and one of the law enforcement officers who investigated the Aug. 21, 1995 beating death.

Authorities said Boggess and his then-girlfriend kidnapped the Wilmington honor student from a popular Wrightsville Beach hangout and drove to northern Durham where they gagged and blindfolded him and then bludgeoned him to death with a wooden board.

Pence didn't expect the jury to take so long to come back with a verdict but never doubted they would do the right thing.

"I just honestly had faith they'd come back with first-degree murder," she said.

As Rand read the verdict, Boggess held his head low. He had nothing to say. The convictions meant he would spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"It's really bittersweet, because it's so sad that someone's going to spend the rest of his life in prison," Pence said. "But it's justice for Danny."

In 1997, Boggess was convicted of first-degree murder for Danny's death and was sentenced to die. Even through police claim Boggess confessed several times to killing him, the North Carolina Supreme Court overturned his death sentence, citing errors by the judge.

Prosecutors argued Boggess killed Danny because his 14-year-old girlfriend, Melanie Gray, wanted the car. Danny was selling it, and they were taking it on a test drive with the intent to steal it.

Defense attorneys presented one witness in the case to support their argument that Boggess's father abused him. And as a result, they said, he was in an altered mental state at the time of the murder. They will appeal the conviction.

Pence said she feels pity for Boggess but doesn't know if she's forgiven him.

"Todd Boggess did have a horrific childhood," Pence said. "There's been no one here to support him. That's just pitiful. As a mother, I can't understand that.

Although she lives outside Wilmington, Pence was in Durham for every day for the trial.

"It's been a long journey," she said. "But you know, a mom will do anything for her child. I would've died for him. I had to do this."

Friday's verdict was an emotional one. Not only for Pence but for the jury members she thanked and hugged as they filed out of the courtroom.

Many had tears in their eyes.

"Nobody wants to convict someone for life," juror Ronald Field said. "This was not a win-win situation. We lost a life with Danny Pence, and now, a life is being lost with Todd Boggess."

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