Guilty Plea In Duplin County Dragging Murder

A Duplin County man will spend the next 12 to 15 years in state prison after his guilty plea today to a strange murder where the victim's foot was dragged for six miles.

Anthony Smith pleaded guilty in a Kenansville courtroom to second degree murder.

Back in October 2008, 19-year-old Ashley Mercer was found dead in the backseat of her car in Pink Hill.

Prosecutors say it was tough to determine what lead up to the woman's death. A pathologist said Mercer died from asphyxia, secondary to suffocation, while prosecutors say prior to the murder everyone there was drinking alcohol. The 28-year-old Smith told deputies that he and the victim had been drinking at a home in Beulaville and that she was being loud. He said he put his hand over her mouth until she stopped moving and Smith said he thought the victim was unconscious.

Smith told deputies he and a friend then carried the woman to her car and put her in head-first into the backseat. He then drove for six miles, while the victim's left foot was outside the car, dragging on the road.

After meeting with the victim's family on many occasions, prosecutors were able to come up with a plea arrangement for Smith.

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