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Convicted killer seeks third trial to prove innocence

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WHITEVILLE, NC (WWAY) -- A man convicted twice for second degree murder is seeking a third trial.

Joseph Sledge says he was wrongly accused of the murder of two Bladen County women in the late 1970’s. Josephine Davis, 74 and her daughter Aileen, 53, were found dead in their home Labor Day 1976.

Sledge has been incarcerated since 1977 and is serving a sentence of over 161 years on the Pamlico Correctional Institution.

Today Sledge’s lawyer, Chris Mumma appeared in front of a judge to ask a judge for a motion of abeyance in the case.

After almost an hour of discussion between Mumma and District Attorney Jon David, the judge granted 90 day abeyance. This means there will be a delay in the case.

During this time the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission will continue with its investigation into the case and perform DNA testing on pieces of evidence.

Family members of the victims walked into the courtroom Thursday with tissues in their hands and left shaking their heads.

“We cannot believe this, we thought this was over 35 years ago,” Katherine Brown, granddaughter of Josephine after the hearing. “Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we go through this difficult time.”

Jon David fought against the motion to grant an abeyance. He said he and his office are ready to litigate the case immediately.

David said he questions the significance of the DNA testing along with the recantation from a key witness this past winter. He says the witness appeared intoxicated during the time he signed the affidavit that stated the testimony he gave in the trail decades ago was false.

The defense and the prosecution will meet again in October. They will examine the progress the Inquiry Commission made in the case during the 90 day period.

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