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NC judges to hear innocence cases from 2 men

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ASHEVILLE, NC (AP) -- Lawyers for two North Carolina men say they pleaded guilty to murder charges because they were afraid of ending up on death row.

A three-judge panel in Asheville began hearing arguments Monday in the case of Kenneth Kagonyera and Robert Wilcoxsin. Both men pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 2000 death of 51-year-old Walter Rodney Bowman at his Fairview home.

The men say they were pressured by family members and lawyers at the time to accept guilty pleas for crimes they say they didn't commit.

Buncombe County prosecutor Kate Dreher denies that, saying their pleas were entered freely at the time.

It could take more than a week for both sides to finish testimony and the judges to rule on the case.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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