Local News

Trial date set for suspect in North Hills murder case

Posted October 15, 2015 5:27 p.m. EDT
Updated October 15, 2015 6:58 p.m. EDT

— A trial date was set Thursday for one of three suspects charged in the brutal 2013 slaying of a woman in her North Hills apartment.

Travion Devonte Smith, 22, of Raleigh, is set to go on trial the first week of January in the beating and stabbing death of Melissa Huggins-Jones.

Huggins-Jones, 30, had recently divorced and moved from Tennessee to the apartment complex off Six Forks Road in Raleigh, where she started a new job and a new life caring for her 8-year-old daughter, Hannah Olivia Jones. Her son had stayed behind with his father in Tennessee to finish the school year.

The morning of May 14, 2013, Hannah wandered out of the apartment and approached a nearby construction crew, asking for help. A construction worker followed the girl back into the apartment and found Huggins-Jones dead in her bed, covered in blood.

An autopsy determined she died from repeated blows to her head and neck.

A laptop stolen from the apartment directly below Huggins-Jones turned up in Wake Forest, and investigators were able to use DNA evidence to link the computer to three suspects.

Smith, Ronald Lee Anthony, 25, and Sarah Rene Redden, 20, of Wake Forest, were charged in the case.

Last month, Anthony pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and received a life sentence.

Redden has agreed to testify against her two co-defendants.

Prosecutors said the three suspects had been breaking into cars in the area and that Redden had served as a lookout at a different apartment complex. Redden's defense attorney, Rosemary Godwin, said Redden wasn't inside the apartment when Huggins-Jones was killed.