Man pleads guilty in 2005 stabbing death
Posted September 5, 2008 10:06 a.m. EDT
Updated September 5, 2008 3:48 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — A man charged in the 2005 stabbing death of a Raleigh woman pleaded guilty Friday to first-degree murder in exchange for a life sentence in prison rather than the death penalty.
Joseph Sanderlin, 26, was facing a possible death sentence for the Nov. 8, 2005, slaying of Lauren Michele Redman, who was stabbed and cut dozens of times inside her Raleigh apartment.
Sanderlin's case was supposed to go to trial in April but was delayed because his defense attorneys filed a motion for a pre-trial hearing to determine whether he was mentally retarded and therefore, ineligible for the death penalty.
State law prohibits mentally retarded people from being put to death. To be mentally retarded, a person has to have an IQ below 70 and have issues with adaptive functioning.
The plea agreement was accepted by Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby, who recently received information from Sanderlin's attorneys indicating their client was mentally disabled.
Sanderlin and two other men were charged in connection with Redman's death – Byron Waring with first-degree murder and George Sasser with being an accessory to murder after the fact.
Waring was convicted in July 2007 and sentenced to death. Sasser is awaiting trial.
Redman, who had been a student at North Carolina State University and was a graduate of East Wake High School, had been raped and had been stabbed more than 20 times.
During Waring's trial, prosecutors said Sanderlin went to Redman's apartment to collect an outstanding debt she owed to Sasser, her former roommate whom witnesses said she kicked out of their apartment.
In a taped confession to police, Waring said Sanderlin raped Redman and that they both stabbed her.
Redman managed to crawl outside her apartment near N.C. State and ask a neighbor for help before she died.
There has only been one other case in Wake County in which mental retardation has been an in issue in a death penalty case – that of Antonio Davon Chance.
Chance, 31, pleaded guilty last month to first-degree murder in the death of Progress Energy employee Cynthia Moreland. Prosecutors say he abducted her from a downtown parking garage early on August 2006 and kidnapped, raped and murdered her.
Psychologists for both and both the state and defense ultimately found he met the state's criteria for mental retardation. He was sentenced to life in prison.