Woman takes Alford plea for 2004 Nash County killing
SPRING HOPE, N.C. (WRAL) - A Nash County woman charged in connection to the 2004 death of Deborah Deans took a plea deal in court.
WRAL reports that Kimberly Hancock took an Alford plea to aiding and abetting voluntary manslaughter and concealment of death. Hancock was originally charged with first-degree murder when Deans’ remains were found in 2019.
An Alford plea means a defendant is accepting there is enough evidence that could lead to a conviction, but the defendant is not outright admitting guilt to the charges.
Deans disappeared in 2004. Her remains were found in a shallow grave behind a home in Spring Hope in 2019, which was 17 years after she was last seen alive
In court on Thursday, prosecutors said evidence showed Hancock was the last person known to have seen Deans, and she was arrested a year after her disappearance for cashing support checks addressed to Deans.
Prosecutors said a woman who had a relationship with Hancock’s son contacted the sheriff’s office and said they had gone over to Hancock’s home and he showed her a hole in the backyard that he used to play in. When the two went inside, Hancock said there were bodies in the backyard, and that she was going to possibly move a body and take it somewhere else, so it couldn’t be found.
Previously, the sheriff’s office said a tip from a local crime fighting Facebook page led to the discovery of Deans’ remains.
“What kind of monster does this to children? The kind that allows her own children and her own grandchildren play in the yard where she’s buried our loved one in a shallow grave,” said Deans’ mother Elaine Blevins.
Although there was no known DNA sample for Deans, authorities obtained DNA from her mother to compare with DNA from the remains. Testing showed there was a high probability the remains belonged to Deans.
At the time, the Nash County Sheriff’s Office said the tip was very detailed and proved to be very accurate.
Deans’ remains were found buried with a bullet wound to the head, prosecutors said.
Hancock will spend at least seven years in prison for the charges.
Deans’ family said the conviction means they can partly begin to move forward.
“We still don’t have our mom. My kids still don’t have their grandma. But at least we have an answer were she is. We’re not left in the unknown endlessly,” said Dean’s daughter Jessica Blevins.
The family said they’re happy with the plea deal.
“I’m glad we got something, considering how long it took, said Jessica Blevins. “The fact that she went to prison was a good outcome for us.”
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