A woman will spend the rest of her life in prison for murdering her 90-year-old great aunt and setting her home on fire. In addition, the killer's mother has also admitted to helping with the crime.
Rhonda Williams Hagan pleaded guilty in the Carteret County Courthouse Tuesday morning to first-degree murder in the death of 90-year-old Goldie Hall (pictured right) in September 2012. Hagan also pleaded guilty to second-degree arson, larceny, and failure to report a death. A charge of first-degree kidnapping was dismissed.
The judge sentenced Hagan to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Hagan said she was sorry to the court. But two members of Hall's family stood up and read a letter to Hagan, saying they cannot forgive her and hope she feels the pain she caused.
Hall’s nephew Gary Gillikin said he is relieved that Hagan is behind bars for the rest of her life.
"She was a very kind loving person. She just loved people depending on her and that's why she was so helpful, and it got her killed,” he said.
Shortly after, Hagan's mother, Phyllis Williams, pleaded guilty to accessory after the fact of second-degree arson, conceal/failure to report a death, and obstruction of justice. A charge of accessory after the fact of murder was dismissed.
Williams was ordered to pay $20,889.60 in restitution to the Carteret County Sheriff's Office. In addition, she will be on probation for five years and must wear an electronic monitoring device for two years. She did not receive prison time.
According to the Carteret County Sheriff's Office, Hagan killed her great aunt, Hall, in September 2012 at the victim's home near Newport after a dispute over money. According to an autopsy, Hall died from blunt force trauma and had 11 deep lacerations to the scalp.
Hagan then burned the victim's house, investigators said.
Hall's body was found a week later in a wooded area behind the Newport Flea Mall. Investigators said half of a torn $30,000 check and a deposit slip was discovered near Hall's body.
Hagan’s attorney Richard McNeil said he thinks the results would have been the same if Hagan had gone to trial.
"I don't know if anybody is happy today but I think it's a fair resolution. I think we made a determination after the last twenty something months that this was the best course of action to take," he explained.
Gillikin said his aunt can now rest in peace.
"It’s just horrible and I’m glad it's over with and I hope nothing like this ever happens to anybody,” he said.