Local News

Judge Allows Taped Confession to be Used in Murder Trial

Posted December 17, 1996 12:00 a.m. EST

— A judge ruled Monday that six taped confessions by a man charged with killing a Wilmington teenager can be used at his murder trial next month.

The evidence can be used even Todd C. Boggess decided not testify at his trial in Durham Superior Court. Boggess, 21, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the August 1995 beating death of 17-year-old Daniel Lee Pence.

Boggess sat quietly and read a Bible as investigators played the confessions. On the tapes, Boggess says that initially he only thought about stealing Pence's car. But after taking Pence, bound and blindfolded, to a wooded area, he said he "wanted to break his legs so he couldn't get out of there... I guess I just snapped."

Later on the tapes, Boggess is heard crying, telling New Hanover County detectives that, "I feel like if I get the gas chamber, I know I deserved it."

Defense attorneys had sought to have the confessions suppressed, saying that had not been given enough pretrial notice that the tapes existed. The lawyers also contended that Boggess was not allowed to talk to an attorney before he gave the statements to investigators.

Boggess and his former girlfriend, Melanie Gray of Durham, who was 14 at the time, are accused of driving away with Daniel Lee Pence in Pence's car from Wrightsville Beach on Aug. 22, 1995. That was the last time Pence, an honor student at Wilmington's Laney High School, was seen alive.

Twelve hours later, Pence was found dead in an old house in northern Durham County, 150 miles away. Investigators think the victim was taken in his own car, against his will, to a wooded hillside.

District Attorney Jim Hardin is seeking the death penalty for Boggess.