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Boggess Found Guilty of Murder

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The verdict is read.
DURHAM — The crime more than a year ago wasshocking and the penalty Monday was severe. A jury has found Todd Boggessguilty as charged.

In August 1995, 17-year-old honor student Danny Pence was murdered inDurham County. Now convicted of committing that murder, Boggess could facethe death penalty.

Sharlene Pence,the victim's mother says this isn't closure for her, butit is the right verdict.

Boggess was found guilty on charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping,robbery with a dangerous weapon, and obtaining property by false pretense.

Brian Aus, Boggess' attorney, says he's hoping the jury will not decide onthe death penalty, given Boggess' history of abuse as a child.

Sharlene Pence says nothing will change for her, regardless of theoutcome.

Durham County jurors deliberated less than five hours over twodays before finding Todd Charles Boggess guilty in the death of17-year-old Daniel Lee Pence.

The sentencing phase of the trial was scheduled to begin today.

Jurors will have to decide whether to sentence Boggess, 21, todeath of life in prison without parole for Pence's murder.

District Attorney Jim Hardin Jr. said after the verdict Mondaythat in seeking a death sentence, he will present evidence aboutthe impact of Pence's death on his family.

Over defense objections, Judge Orlando F. Hudson ruled thatsuchevidence is admissible.

``Apparently the North Carolina Supreme Court will allow thestate some ability to bring humanity to the victim,'' the judgesaid.

Hudson also said that - at the request of defense lawyers -statements of a co-defendant in the case probably will come underjury review for the first time during the sentencing phase ofBoggess' trial. The co-defendant is Melanie Gray of Durham, who was14 at the time she allegedly participated in the crimes.

The victim's family considered the ordeal over, regardless ofwhat the jury decides should be Boggess' fate.

``It's rather bittersweet,'' Sharlene Pence, the victim'smother, said after the verdict. ``I'm leaving the death penalty upto God. This is justice for Danny. He's not here, but he knows.''

Jurors also found Boggess guilty of obtaining property by falsepretenses. Boggess' mother, Linda Boggess, rushed sobbing from thecourtroom, making no comment.

Pence was kidnapped at Wrightsville Beach on Aug. 22, 1995 andhis battered body was found in the woods in northern Durham County,police said.

Prosecutors contended Boggess and his girlfriend, Gray,abductedand then killed Pence after pretending they wanted to buy his 1987Ford Mustang.

Gray also is charged in the death but has not been tried.Because of her age, she will not face the death penalty.

During closing arguments in Boggess' trial Friday, Hardin saidthe defendant had a ``delight in cruelty'' as he fatally beat Pencewith a rock, a board and his fists.

Brian Aus, Boggess' defense attorney, said childhood sexualabuse, drug and alcohol problems and chronic depression madeBoggess mentally incapable of premeditated murder.

Deliberations began late Friday afternoon and resumed Mondaybefore the afternoon verdict.

The jury heard three taped confessions that Boggess gave lawenforcement officers shortly after he and Gray were captured in aBeaufort County cornfield.-- From staff and wire reports