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Garner Man Pleads Guilty To Teen Neighbor's Slaying

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A Garner man accused of molesting and killing his 15-year-old neighbor pleaded guilty to first-degree murder Thursday, and thereby avoiding a possible death sentence.

Kenneth O'Neal, 20, will spend the rest of his life behind bars for the stabbing death of Amanda Maynard.

"You know what Kenneth, I want you to get life," said the victim's mother, Tammy Edrington, in an emotional statement during court proceedings. "I want you to think everyday about what you did to that baby."

O'Neal seemed to be watching and listening to the statements, but showed no visible reaction.

Edrington also said that O'Neal's mother should have known her son was capable of such violence in which he was accused.

"He was a time bomb waiting to go off, and she knew that, and she didn't do anything to help him," Edrington said.

But defense attorneys said their client was not without remorse.

"He struggled with what happened. He never really understood what he did. It was a horrible act, but at the core he is not a horrible person," said defense attorney Tom Maher.

Prosecutors said O'Neal broke into Maynard's home on Jan. 1, 2005, stabbed her four times in the head and sexually molested her. But under the law he is not eligible for the death penalty because of his low IQ.

"All the evidence I have before me indicates that the defendant is retarded," said prosecutor Frank Jackson. "And therefore, by statute, we can't seek the death penalty."

O'Neal's family and friends were in the courtroom for the hearing, but declined to comment about the case.

Maynard's parents said that even though they are pleased with the resolution in the case, it would take a lifetime to cope with the pain of losing their daughter.

"I have nothing left, nothing," Edrington said.


Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Chad Flowers, Photographer
Kelly Gardner, Web Editor

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