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Boychuk Pleads Guilty to Avoid Death Row

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RALEIGH — Just as the defense prepared to present itscase to the jury a surprise confession stunned a Raleigh courtroom.Bill Boychuk, the Cary man accused of murdering his wife pleaded guiltyafter making an agreement that should keep him off death row.

It was foggy on New Year's Eve 1995 when prosecutors say Boychuk andhis pregnant wife Karen were walking across the Cary Parkway bridge.Prosecutors presented evidence this week that Boychuk pushed his wife upagainst a guardrail which she then fell over, tumbling down a steep embankment.

At that point, nearby residents say they heard a terrifyingscream. The state says Bill Boychuk then ran down the embankment andstruck her in the head four times with a blunt object, probably with arock.

Leaving the courtroom, Boychuk showed little emotion for a man whowill spend the rest of his life behind bars. He stopped only to shakehands with his parents.

But there was plenty of emotion from the family of Karen Boychuk. Herfather enthusiastically hugged prosecutor Tom Ford.

Several of the jurors who heard testimony for 8 days say they are alsopleased with the outcome. Edwin Mayer said there was a feeling of reliefamong jurors.

Prosecutor Tom Ford says he believes Boychuk pleaded guilty becausethe state presented such a strong case against him.

Bill Boychuk maintained his innocence as he was lead away incustody Thursday, despite having just pleaded guilty. Either way, he willspend the rest of his life in prison.

Photographer:Robert Meikle