RALEIGH, NC (AP) — North Carolina’s Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for a man convicted of first-degree murder in the 2005 slaying of an Appalachian State University student.
The state’s high court ruled Friday that a judge at Neil Matthew Sargeant’s trial incorrectly barred witness statements that fingered the prosecution’s only eyewitness instead of Sargeant as the killer. Sargeant was spared the death penalty after his 2008 conviction when the parents of 19-year-old slaying victim Stephen Harrington of Raleigh asked that the sentencing hearing be stopped.
The court reversed Sargeant’s convictions and ordered a new trial.
Harrington’s body was discovered in the trunk of his smoking car parked near a covered bridge in rural Watauga County. An autopsy found he suffocated after his head was wrapped like a mummy’s in duct tape.
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