TARBORO, N.C. — A Rocky Mount man accused of killing his neighbor, mutilating her body and setting her apartment on fire to cover up evidence was sentenced Tuesday to a maximum of 42 years in prison.
Andre Demetrius Vines, 28, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and first-degree arson in connection with the April 29, 2007, death of Ellen "Lois" Sharpe.
Vines will spend a minimum of 33 years and nine months in prison, under the plea deal.
Police said Sharpe, 65, was beaten, raped and strangled and that her hands were severed and taken from the crime scene.
"No one deserves to die that way," Sharpe's sister-in-law, Dorothy Boddie, said. "He severed both hands, and this court, this DA is going to give him a slap on his. That's what it feels like to me."
But Edgecombe County Assistant District Attorney Steve Graham said in court Tuesday that the state wanted to ensure Vines was punished severely and that the only way it would happen was through the plea deal.
Graham went on to say that the state had legitimate concerns about the original charges – first-degree murder, first-degree rape, first-degree arson and robbery with a dangerous weapon – but would not elaborate.
Sharpe's family, however, said prosecutors did not have enough evidence to take the case to trial.
Neither Assistant District Bill Wolfe, who prosecuted the case, nor District Attorney Howard Boney would comment on the plea deal outside court.
"Lois' justice was not served today," Boddie said, calling the punishment an insult to Sharpe and her family.
"It's like he really did nothing, and it's still not over for me," she said. "We are not happy with this decision at all."