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Opening statements start in Williford murder trial

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - An attorney for the North Carolina man accused in the death of a state Board of Education member says his client suffered from a number of mental illnesses that made it impossible for him to form the intent to commit first-degree murder.

Opening statements came Wednesday in the trial of 32-year-old Jason Williford, who is charged in the 2010 death of board member Kathy Taft.

Defense attorney Ernest "Buddy" Conner said Williford raped Taft and fractured her skull and doesn't deny what he did. But he said his client is not guilty of premeditated murder.

The brief opening statement from Wake County Assistant District Attorney Trish Jacobs said Taft felt safe in the Raleigh home where she was staying as she recovered from plastic surgery, but she wasn't.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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