After five years, Aaron Stephens found not guilty in murder trial

NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — The jury is no longer out. Monday, a murder trial five years in the making came to a close.

Aaron Stephens left the court in handcuffs, but not for first degree murder.

Stephens was found not guilty of first degree murder of Terry Greenwood, attempted murder of Anthony Lanza, and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury charges.

Stephens, a convicted felon, admitted to possessing three firearms, which is illegal. He was convicted on that charge and sentenced to between 14 and 26 months in prison. That time will be reduced by the six months he spent in jail before making bond in 2017.

After the verdict, some members of Greenwood’s family left the courtroom in tears.

New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David said he was proud of how his prosecutor, Dru Lewis pursued the case, and feels for Terry Greenwood’s and Anthony Lanza’s families.

“We knew this would be a hard case,” said David. “This was never going to be a ‘whodunnit’, it was going to be a what do you call it. The jury after listening to all of it called self defense, and I respect that verdict, and even though I respectfully disagree with it, I fight to uphold this system, and I’m proud of the jury’s service in it, just as I am proud of the investigators and prosecutors in this case.”

According to witnesses, Greenwood sent Stephens threatening texts, followed him, and drove by Stephen’s house on Julia Drive on March 21. Stephens followed Lanza and Greenwood to a cul-de-sac, where a fight led to Greenwood getting shot and stabbed.

Stephens did take the stand in this case and maintained the shooting was in self-defense. The jury agreed with that defense during the two days of deliberation.

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