In an interview with WRAL News last week, Victor Gamble continued to maintain he didn't kill 11-year-old Bradley Way.
"I feel like I should not be charged with murder because I didn't murder nobody," said Gamble, who is serving a life sentence in Scotland Correctional Institution.
Way's mother, Kristy Lester, said hearing Gamble's statements brought back a flood of emotion. She said he showed no remorse for her son's death.
"Even if he wasn't the one who initially took my son's life, he didn't do anything to save him," Lester said in a telephone interview from her home in Bluefield, W. Va.
Authorities said someone broke into Way's home on JJ Lane near the Lee-Moore county line on June 12, 2004, and was surprised to find the fifth-grader inside. The boy was beaten and stomped to death, and his body was dumped in an abandoned mobile home nearby, where it was found a few days later.
Gamble's fingerprints were found on a broken window at the home, and investigators said he stole jewelry from the home and pawned it for $65.
Although he said an accomplice in the burglary killed Way, Gamble pleaded guilty two years ago to murder, kidnapping and breaking and entering to avoid facing the death penalty.
Last month, Kevin Lance Key admitted to Lee County investigators that he had taken part in Way's slaying, although he claimed Gamble killed the boy.
Key, who lives about a quarter-mile from the Way home and was a longtime suspect in the case, has been charged with murder, kidnapping, felony breaking and entering, felony larceny and felony possession of stolen goods.
"It's hard to accept the fact that he's been out and could've done this to somebody else," Lester said.
Lester said she still has nightmares about Way's death and fears for her younger son's life. She moved from Lee County a couple of years ago to live with her mother.
Bruce Cunningham Jr., Gamble's new attorney, said he plans to challenge his guilty plea now that Key has finally confessed to his involvement. Under state law, Gamble can be charged with murder for participating in the burglary of the Way home, regardless of whether he actually killed Bradley Way.
Lester said that, even if Gamble is telling the truth, his recent statements show he is still responsible for her son's death.
"They could've walked away. My son was no challenge to them, no kind of threat to them," she said. "If they would do it to my child, they'll do it to somebody else."