Is the death penalty dead in Wake County?

RALEIGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- The death penalty is becoming increasingly rare in the state's capital county.

It's been nearly 10 years since a Wake County jury agreed to hand down capital punishment.

The rejection of that sentence last week by a jury in the Nathan Holden trial continued a string going back nearly ten years.

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It was the seventh consecutive capital case in which a Wake jury refused to send the defendant to death row.

The last death penalty delivered by a jury in Wake was in July of 2007.

The defendant in that case, Byron Waring, was sentenced to death for the murder of Lauren Redman.


The last jury to reject the death penalty prior to the Holden trial was in the case of defendant Travion Smith in February of 2016.

At that time the then-new District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said, "I do think at some point we have to step back and say, 'Has the community sent us a message on that?'"

But on Monday she told ABC11 that as long as the death penalty is the law in NC she will have to weigh whether to pursue it despite what appears to be declining odds and the massive expense of death penalty trials.

She noted that the Holden case was especially violent, ending in a shootout with law enforcement after Holden murdered his in-laws and beat and shot his wife while his three children were in the room.

"Certainly the pattern of violence, the multiple victims in this case played a big role in our decision to pursue the death penalty," Freeman told ABC11.

So it appears the Holden trial will not be the last death penalty trial in Wake County.

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