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One suspect pleads in Hallsboro New Year’s murder

Antwan Johnson will spend the next 30 years in state prison for his role in the murder of a Hallsboro woman on New Year’s Day, 2014.

Johnson, 33, accepted a plea deal Tuesday in Columbus County Superior Court. As part of the arrangement, he will testify in the trials of Derrick Pierce and Amanda Canady.

The three were arrested in February 2014 for the beating death of Keisha Ward and the attempted murder of her boyfriend, Johnny Tyler, at Ward’s Hallsboro home. Ward’s children found their mother’s body New Year’s Day.

Johnson pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree murder and an additional count of attempted murder. Superior Court Judge Douglas Sasser sentenced Johnson to between 30 and 37 years – 360 to 444 months – active in the North Carolina Department of Corrections on the second-degree murder charge.

Additionally, Johnson pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced to between 16 and 20 years in state prison. Those sentences will run concurrently.

Pierce and Canady will be tried later this year as part of the District Attorney’s Office new plan to clear out major murder cases that have been languishing on the dockets for years.

See Thursday’s NR for more.

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