Local News

Suspected Rocky Mount killer won't face death penalty

Posted October 1, 2009 12:13 p.m. EDT
Updated October 1, 2009 6:20 p.m. EDT

— The state won't seek the death penalty against a man accused of killing a Rocky Mount woman – one of several women whose bodies were found within a 10-mile radius in Edgecombe County over the past four years.

During a hearing Thursday, prosecutors said there were no aggravating factors that qualified the case against Antwan Maurice Pittman as a capital case.

Pittman, 31, faces one count of first-degree murder in the strangling death of Taraha Shenice Nicholson, 28. He pleaded not guilty Thursday and has been held without bond at Central Prison in Raleigh since his arrest Sept. 1.

Authorities have said little about their case against Pittman or how they linked him to Nicholson's death. Her remains were found in March in a wooded area about a mile outside Rocky Mount.

Nicholson is one of five Rocky Mount women with histories of police run-ins, drugs and prostitution who authorities say were reported missing and were later discovered slain. A sixth woman who hasn't been identified was also found in the same area.

Family members of Pittman declined to comment after Thursday's hearing, but his mother said in an interview last month that he was incapable of murder.

Nicholson's mother, Diana Nicholson, was also in court Thursday's. She sat crying as she looked at Pittman.

"I want to be here for everything that goes on, for my daughter," she said. "It was very hard (seeing Pittman). My heart is hurting, It just hurts so bad."