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Judge Allows Taped Confession to be Used in Murder Trial

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DURHAM — A judge ruled Monday that six tapedconfessionsby a man charged with killing a Wilmington teenager can be used at hismurder trial next month.

The evidence can be used even Todd C. Boggess decided not testify athis trial in Durham Superior Court. Boggess, 21, is charged withfirst-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 theconfessions. On the tapes, Boggess says that initially he only thoughtabout 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 getout of there... I guess I just snapped."

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

Defense attorneys had sought to have the confessions suppressed, sayingthat had not been given enough pretrial notice that the tapes existed. Thelawyers also contended that Boggess was not allowed to talk to an attorneybefore he gave the statements to investigators.

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

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

District Attorney Jim Hardin isseeking the death penalty for Boggess.

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