Wilmington man pleads guilty to murdering a man during a home invasion

James Girlee Hardy Mugshot
James Girlee Hardy will serve up to 20 years in prison for his role in a Wilmington home invasion and murder.

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A man accused of murdering a blind man during a home invasion two years ago has pleaded guilty to the crime and will be going to prison for up to 20 years.

James Girlee Hardy, 41, pleaded guilty on Thursday in New Hanover County Superior Court to Second-Degree Murder, Attempted Armed Robbery and First-Degree Kidnapping.

According to a statement from District Attorney Ben David’s office, Hardy and another suspect, who has not been charged, forged their way into Donald Wayne Gurganious’ home on Pinecrest Parkway around 10:30 p.m. on March 4, 2020.

Following a brief struggle, Gurganious was shot in the chest and later died from his injuries at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

At the time of the shooting, the district attorney’s office says a woman was inside the home. She was held down by a man wearing a clown mask while the other suspect shot Gurganious. She was not injured in the incident.

Wilmington Police obtained surveillance footage from other homes and businesses in the area which helped identify the vehicle Hardy drove to the scene.

The car was leased in his wife’s name and also had a GPS tracking device installed by the leaser which confirmed the vehicle’s movements that night.

Investigators also obtained video images showing Hardy and another man exiting the car after parking near Gurganious’ home and leaving in the vehicle a short time later.

Other images show Hardy arriving back at his home on South 4th Street after leaving Gurganious’ home.

During a search of Hardy’s home, investigators found a handgun from his wife. Using ballistics testing, police were able to confirm the gun seized was the same one used to kill Gurganious.

Hardy admitted to his involvement in the robbery attempt but claimed the other suspect shot Gurganious. They targeted the home because they thought Gurganious had a large amount of pills.

No other arrests have been made in the case. If you have any additional information, call the Wilmington Police Department at 910-343-3620.

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