Jurors have found a Rocky Mount man guilty of killing a prostitute, one of several women who were found dead in rural Edgecombe County.
Antwan Pittman was found guilty of first degree murder after the jury deliberated about 40 minutes in the case.
Pittman faces an automatic life in prison sentence without parole.
Pittman is only charged with Taraha Nicholson's 2009 murder, but is also a suspect in multiple other women's deaths in Edgecombe and Halifax counties. The trial was moved to Bertie County because of publicity in the case.
As the judge had the jury polled, Pittman appeared angry. At one point he cried and told the judge, "I did not kill that woman. I did not kill her. Y'all sending an innocent man to prison for life, I did not kill her." Nicholson's mother wept as the verdict was read.
District Attorney Robert Evans said he was happy with the outcome of the trial, but wouldn't comment about charges in any of the other cases.
Jurors have reached a verdict in the murder case against Antwan Pittman. The Rocky Mount man is on trial for killing one prostitute, while he is a suspect in the deaths of several others.
The jury began their deliberations at 1:20 p.m. and shortly before 2:00 p.m. the judge announced there was a verdict. That verdict has not been read in court yet.
Pittman was one of two defense witnesses in the trial, taking the stand late Wednesday afternoon saying he did not kill Taraha Nicholson.
Pittman is only charged with Nicholson's 2009 murder, but is also a suspect in multiple other women's deaths in Edgecombe and Halifax counties. The trial was moved to Bertie County because of publicity in the case.
He described to jurors the encounter with Nicholson. Pittman said the two had sex at a motel on March 1, 2009, that he dropped her off behind the Rocky Mount library and he never saw her again.
Pittman told prosecutors under cross examination that Nicholson was the first prostitute that he had sex with. He denied having sex with two former prostitutes who earlier testified that Pittman tried to strangle them too.
Earlier Wednesday a state DNA analyst told jurors that Pittman's DNA was found on a swab of the murder victim.
Sharon Hinton, a state crime lab forensic DNA analyst, testified while Pittman's fluids were on the swab, panties found near the body did not contain Pittman's DNA. She said there was a mixture of DNA found on that item, Nicholson's and unknown DNA.
Autopsy results show the 28-year-old woman was choked to death. One of Pittman's attorneys say his client met Nicholson in February 2009 while she was working as a prostitute. Tom Sallenger told jurors during opening statements that Pittman will take the witness stand and explain that he dropped Nicholson off where he picked her up, but didn't harm the woman.
Defense attorneys say the man charged with killing a woman in Edgecombe County will testify about an encounter he had with the woman.
Defense attorney Tom Sallenger said in opening statements Tuesday that Antwan Pittman will testify about a "rendezvous" with the victim, 28-year-old Taraha Shenice Nicholson.
Pittman is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Nicholson, whose body was found March 7, 2009. Autopsy results showed Nicholson was choked to death.
Nicholson is one of several women whose bodies were found over a period of several years in a rural stretch of Edgecombe County. Pittman has not been charged in any of the other deaths.
Testimony is to resume Wednesday. The trial is being held in Bertie County.
Jurors this morning in the Antwan Pittman murder trial first heard brief opening statements from attorneys before the state began calling witnesses.
Pittman, 31, is accused of murdering one woman and suspected in several other slayings in Edgecombe County. He faces first-degree murder charges in the death of Taraha Nicholson.
Nicholson is one of eight Rocky Mount women whose bodies were found over a period of several years off Battleboro-Legget Rd. Pittman has not been charged in any of the other deaths, but officials say he is a suspect.
A jury was chosen Monday. Although the crime was committed in Edgecombe County, a judge moved the trial to Bertie County because of pre-trial publicity. Judge Cy Grant says the trial could last through next Monday or Tuesday.
A jury has been selection in the case for a man charged with killing one woman and linked to the similar deaths of several others in Edgecombe County. The trial for Antwan Pittman has been moved to Bertie County because of concerns of pre-trial publicity.
The 31-year-old Pittman was charged in 2009 for the death of Taraha Nicholson. The 28-year-old Nicholson's remains were found on Marriott Road on March 7, 2009. She is one of nine women with similar profiles found dead in either Edgecombe or Halifax counties. One of those bodies was found behind a home where Pittman once lived. He has only been charged with her murder.
The judge has indicated the trial could last into next week. Monday there were eight deputies in the courtroom for security.
The murder trial of a man charged in an Edgecombe County death and a suspect in several others is scheduled to begin Monday.
Antwan Pittman is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Taraha Nicholson. Pittman was arrested back in 2009.
Nicholson is one of several women whose bodies were found over a period of several years in a rural stretch of Edgecombe County.
Pittman has not been charged in any of the other deaths, but officials say he is a suspect.
The trial will take place in Windsor in Bertie County because of publicity surrounding the case.