‘I forgive’: Wilmington grandmother reacts to guilty plea in 2014 witness murder in Duplin Co.

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The man who killed Obediah Hester IV pleaded guilty to the 2014 murder on Friday.

Several of Hester’s family members spoke in court in Duplin County and WWAY spoke with one of those family members Friday evening.

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Hester’s maternal grandmother, Thelma Williams, said Obediah, or “Obi” as he was called by loved ones, was very loving and had a giving heart. She said he was always bringing a new person home who needed help, asking his grandma to feed them, because they were hungry.

“I’m not saying Obi was perfect, but he was a young 27-year-old man that deserved to live too,” Williams said.

Hester was the key witness in the murder trial of Brian Grant in 2012. While out on pre-trial release, Nashid Porter took off his GPS monitoring bracelet and killed Hester in 2014.

“Mr. Grant and Obi, they were fathers. You took them away from their children,” Williams said.

Hester left behind a girlfriend and three young sons. He planned to marry his girlfriend, Sabrina, in January but was killed in November. Williams said he waited too long to marry her, advising others to never wait until tomorrow, because it is not promised.

“The night of the wake, the baby, the mama was holding him over the casket and the baby said, ‘mama, mama, daddy sleep. wake up daddy, wake up.’ He didn’t know that daddy wouldn’t wake up no more,” Williams said.

Williams addressed her grandson’s killer in Court on Friday. Through all the pain she and her family have felt, she wished the man that killed her grandson well.

“The person accused of it…found guilty of it, I told that person today, ‘I forgive you.’ because if I don’t forgive you for what you did, how can I expect God to forgive me for the things I did?” Williams said.

After Hester died, Williams said one of her neighbors told her he would start her car every morning when it was cold outside so that she didn’t have to get into a cold car with ice on the windshield.

The 27-year-old knew the Holy Bible well. Williams said they would always meet up after church to talk about what their preachers talked about in church that day. She said she always believed he would have gone on to become a preacher himself.

Following the guilty plea, Williams said she feels there is closure but knows the pain will linger. Looking ahead, she pleads to the community to stop the violence and to speak up when you know something is not right.

“We’re gonna lose our family members, but when you lose them to violence like this…it’s hurtful,” Williams said. “If you know something say something. We can’t expect the police to solve everything by themselves. They’ve got to have the help of the community.”