Local News

Plea deal offered in Hope Mills girl's death

Posted March 7, 2016 5:07 p.m. EST
Updated March 7, 2016 6:40 p.m. EST

— A Sampson County man charged with killing his former girlfriend two years ago is weighing a plea deal offered by prosecutors in the case.

Je'Michael Devanair Malloy, 19, of Autryville, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Danielle Nicole Locklear. The deal would make him eligible for parole after 25 years instead of facing the possibility of life in prison without parole should he be convicted of first-degree murder at trial.

Because he was under 18 at the time of the alleged crime, prosecutors said, he cannot face the death penalty.

Locklear, 15, a freshman at South View High School in Hope Mills, had been missing for three weeks when her body was found April 3, 2014, in the South River near the Cumberland-Sampson county line.

Authorities said Malloy confessed to strangling her, watching as another teen stuffed a sock down her throat and tying her body to cinder blocks before tossing her into the river.

The second teen, Dominic Tayvon Lock, 19, pleaded guilty last July to being an accessory after the fact of murder. His sentencing has been put on hold until Malloy's case is resolved. As part of his plea agreement, he could provide testimony in a trial.

Malloy has 30 days to accept or reject the plea deal. If he rejects it, prosecutors said the case will go to trial before the end of the year.

The case is very emotional for both families because the Malloys and Locklears are related, but both sides agree a plea deal may be the best deal.

"Whatever God says, whatever my son says, whatever my attorney says, then it is well with my soul," Malloy's mother, Cynthia Malloy, said after a court hearing Monday.

"Opening up all those wounds, it's really been very hurtful," said Locklear's aunt, Chena Simmons. "If we can get a good plea that the family can agree on, we may go for that."

Locklear's family is organizing a memorial on Friday at a community center in Autryville to mark the second anniversary of her death.