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Johnston County Man Receives Life Sentence In Stepdaughter's Slaying

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Melissa Mayer
SMITHFIELD, N.C. — A Johnston County man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing his stepdaugther.

Ashley Reagan Jr., 34, who authorities said confessed to killing 16-year-old Melissa Mayer, was sentenced Thursday after he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder

Family members of both the victim and the defendant were in court and read statements, during which Reagan could be seen crying.

Investigators said that Mayer had been in Clayton celebrating Easter and her upcoming birthday with her mother, brothers and stepfather.

One night during her visit, authorities said Reagan used cocaine and argued with Mayer and her mother about his addiction.

Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said the family all went to bed, but Reagan woke up around 3 a.m., found Mayer, hit her on the head with a 25-pound dumbbell and strangled her.

Authorities said that next morning, Reagan went to authorities and told them that he had killed Mayer.

The Garner high school junior lived with Reagan's parents for two years because she did not get along with him.