CARTERET COUNTY - A woman accused of murdering her great aunt appeared in court on Tuesday.
Carteret County Deputies said Rhonda Hagan, 32, killed Goldie Hall, 90, and then burned the woman's home.
Investigators said Hagan's mother, Phyllis Williams, helped Hagan in the crime. Williams was also in court on Tuesday.
It's a crime that happened in September 2012.
Authorities said Hall was killed at her home over a money dispute, and the autopsy said she died from blunt force trauma. Her body was found a week later outside of Newport.
Officials said it's now time to decide whether or not this will be a capital murder case.
Connie Gonzalez said she was a close friend of Hall's for more than three years. She said she used to visit Hall every day and she still comes to the same spot each day to reflect.
"She was just an outstanding woman. I don't know anybody who knew her who didn't love her," Gonzalez said.
Hagan's attorney Richard McNeil said Hagan will go to trial and plead not guilty.
"The district attorney has to decide if he's going to make it a capital case or a non-capital case," he said.
"Right now we are continuing to prepare the case and be sure we have a good strong case to present in court if that becomes necessary," said District Attorney Scott Thomas.
Hagan and Williams were indicted by a grand jury last month. Thomas said Williams has since posted bail, but Hagan is still at the Carteret County Jail without bond.
Gonzalez said her boyfriend now owns the property and they plan to build another house here to keep Hall's memory alive.
"I hope there will be a good ending to this. A bad ending won't bring her back," she explained.
Thomas said there is more evidence being processed by the SBI. Investigators said they are looking at a trial date for fall of this year.
Hagan is charged with murder, kidnapping, arson and failure to disclose the location of the body. Williams is charged with accessory after the fact, arson and obstruction of justice.
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