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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A Wilmington man accused of murder took a plea deal at the last minute.

A trial was supposed to start this afternoon for Garry Orlando Hines, 20. But before the jury even came in Hines pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the death of Cornelius Blanks, 20. Blanks was shot and killed during an early-morning fight in May 2011 outside Club 609 in Wilmington.

In court, the judge said it was his understanding that some witnesses, who he believes may have been involved in gangs, refused to testify.

Talks of a plea deal circled around the courthouse last Wednesday, but no one could confirm whether Hines was offered a deal or what that deal might have been. Jury selection began later that day with trial set to begin today. But just minutes before the jury was supposed to head to the courtroom, Hines accepted a plea deal for voluntary manslaughter.

Hines also faced several heroin-related charges in an unrelated case. The judge says those charges were in the plea agreement.

Tthe judge says Hines will serve 51-71 months in prison.

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