PITT COUNTY - A former police officer accused of murder in the shooting and burning of his fiancée pleaded guilty to a lesser charge Friday. The plea deal means he'll soon be a free man.
Clinton Arthur Ridenour, 59, pleaded guilty Friday morning to voluntary manslaughter in the 2009 death of Teresea Foster, said District Attorney Kimberly Robb.
Ridenour was sentenced to between three years and two months to four years and seven months in prison, Robb said. But because he has already spent that amount of time in jail, he is scheduled to be released on parole within a few days.
"It's kinda like an open wound that will probably never heal, because there was no justice served in this case," said Brandy Nobles, Foster's stepdaughter. "Now, we're standing here at the end and we're still in shock, because he's walking away."
Investigators said Ridenour, a former Farmville police officer, killed Foster in Stokes in Aug. 22, 2009, the day their wedding was originally scheduled for. But the wedding was called off two days prior to the date planned.
Foster was fatally shot in the head; her body was then lit on fire, according to the District Attorney's Office.
When Ridenour was tried for murder in 2012, he claimed that Foster killed herself. That resulted in a hung jury, with nine of the 12 jurors deciding Ridenour was not guilty.
Robb told NewsChannel 12 it was unlikely to convict Ridenour of murder in a retrial. Having Ridenour plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter was the best option because it allowed the man to become a convicted felon, so that he will not be able to serve in law enforcement again, Robb said.
"I know this family, already having gone through a seven-week trial, didn't need to go through another one," Robb said.
But Foster's family said they are struggling to come to terms with the plea deal.
"Our faith in people is shattered, our faith in the justice system is shattered, and just our faith in mankind is shattered," said Nobles.
NewsChannel 12 reached out to Ridenour's mother. She maintained that her son is innocent, and said she is just glad he is coming home.