Man accused of 2020 Emerald Isle murder takes guilty plea, gets life in prison

Man accused of 2020 Emerald Isle murder takes guilty plea, gets life in prison
Published: Jul. 18, 2022 at 5:05 PM EDT
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BEAUFORT, N.C. (WITN) - A man accused of a 2020 murder in Emerald Isle was sentenced to life in prison Monday after he pled guilty to the charges against him.

District Attorney Scott Thomas says 28-year-old Patrick Whitley, of Havelock, pled guilty to first-degree murder and first-degree arson in Carteret County Superior Court Monday. After the verdict, the judge sentenced Whitley to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Thomas says the state presented 14 witnesses and 78 pieces of evidence over five days in the trial that began last Monday, July 11, before Whitley changed his plea to guilty this Monday morning.

Whitley was on trial for the Jan. 9, 2020 murder of Carl Jones, Jr. in Emerald Isle.

WITN reported in 2020 that the killing and fire happened at 107 Melanie Street on that early 2020 day at about 8:30 p.m.

We’re told that police and fire crews responded to the home, that Whitley had been living in, after Whitley called 911 and reported someone had come to his house and thrown a bottle of gasoline inside, prompting him to shoot them. Jones’ body was found inside the burning home.

Police found that Jones had been shot four times in the neck and torso, and they found Molotov cocktails throughout the home, as well as eight spent shell casings consistent with a gun owned by Whitley.

Investigators found that Jones, who previously worked for Whitley, had been dropped off at the home to pick up a paycheck, and did not have any flammable liquids when he arrived. Shortly after, gunshots could be heard.

Thomas says Whitley was charged with murder on Jan. 15, 2020 and he was arrested in Corpus Christi, Texas on the same day. He initially pled guilty.

“I appreciate the great work of ADAs Ashley Eatmon, David Spence, Legal Assistant Michelle Gillikin and the entire prosecution and law enforcement team on this case. Their preparation and presentation led to the defendant pleading guilty prior to the close of the state’s case. Our prayers remain with the victim’s family as justice has been achieved in the courtroom in this trial,” Thomas said.

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