Suspect pleads guilty to Raleigh mother's 2013 murder

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- More than two years after a mother was murdered at her Raleigh apartment, one of the suspects in the case has pleaded guilty in connection with the crime.

Ronald Lee Anthony Jr. pleaded guilty Tuesday to first-degree murder in the death of 30-year-old Melissa Huggins-Jones.



Huggins-Jones had just moved to Raleigh from Tennessee for a job when she was found beaten to death on May 14, 2013, at her apartment in Raleigh's North Hills community.

During Tuesday's hearing the prosecutor said Anthony and one of his co-defendants took turns stabbing Huggins-Jones after they shimmied up onto the second-floor apartment's balcony and found an unlocked door.



Authorities have said they believe the suspects had been breaking into cars in Huggins-Jones' neighborhood before breaking into her home.

Huggins-Jones' 8-year-old daughter discovered her body hours later.

According to the prosecutor, one of the suspects told investigators that the intruders would have killed the girl if she had awakened.

Anthony, along with Sarah Redden and Travian Devonte Smith, were all charged in connection with the crime.

RELATED: 3 arrested in murder of north Raleigh mother

In 2014, a judge agreed to set a bond for Redden after she requested to see her young daughter.

Judge Donald Stephens called the crime "outrageous" and said at the time that he wouldn't have set the $1 million bond without assurance that Redden would cooperate with the state in the cases against Anthony and Smith.

She had told authorities she was driving the two male suspects that night. Prosecutors have said that Redden wasn't involved in the murder.

Anthony asked the judge Tuesday for a life sentence without parole after admitting to Huggins-Jones' murder, which the judge granted. The plea deal spares him of the death penalty.

During the hearing, Huggins-Jones's father said he lives with hate and vengeance, as their family in the courtroom cried with him.



Smith has not been tried in the case.

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