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BURGAW, NC (WWAY) — A Rocky Point man will spend as long as the next two decades in prison for the stabbing death of his estranged girlfriend two years ago.

Harris pleaded guilty to second-degree murder earlier this month in the death of Debra Long.

Investigators say Harris killed Long in her home on Chinaberry Lane in June 2012. They say he stabbed her 14 times in the neck, face and chest and laid trash over her body after the crime.

“He was a scumbag. I mean, I tried everything in my power to get my mother to stay away from him,” Long’s son Michael Cervero said.

Today a judge sentenced Harris to between 17.8 and 22.4 years in prison. Harris received credit for the two years he has already spent behind bars.

“This is a huge weight off my shoulders. This is finally the closure I have been wanting for two years,” Cervero said.

Harris admitted he and Long had a rocky relationship that came to an unnecessary head.

“Things got out of hand that night,” Harris said in court. “We were arguing about Michael.”

According to the defense, Cervero was overcoming his own issues at the time, but he says it hurt to hear his mother’s killer utter those words.

“It was a low blow,” Cervero said.

Harris said the crime was self-defense after Long came after him, and that she did not need to die that night.

“Not a day goes by that I have been incarcerated that I haven’t wished it wasn’t me,” Harris said.

Harris’s mother was in court, but she did not want to talk on camera. She says Tony is not the monster the prosecution made him out to be.

Aside from spending at least 17 years in prison, the judge also ordered Harris get substance abuse treatment and undergo anger management.


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