Haddock Killer Gets Life
The admitted killer of 12-year-old Emily Haddock asked her family to forgive him Tuesday before he was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.
"First I would like to apologize to the victim's family, the DA, and all I have hurt," Michael Graham Currie said in Moore County Superior Court. "I am not cruel or anything like that. The only thing I am asking for is the solitude of forgiveness. If you will grant me that, I will greatly appreciate it."
Senior Resident Superior Court Judge James M. Webb then imposed the life sentence - something the family wanted and that both defense and prosecution had agreed to in a plea bargain that spared Currie the risk of a death sentence.
Last week, Currie pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.
District Attorney Maureen Krueger has kept a photograph of Haddock on her desk since the case began, nearly three years ago.
On Sept. 11, 2007, Currie and others broke into the family's double-wide manufactured home on Marks Road near the Moore-Harnett county line. Haddock was home from school with strep throat. The intruders did not expect to find anyone in the home.
Currie shot Haddock in the mouth and the top of the head with a stolen .22-caliber pistol when he encountered her, according to his previous admission in an earlier hearing.
A co-defendant, Sherrod Nicholas Harrison, pleaded guilty in June to a lesser charge - being an accessory after the fact to first-degree murder - in return for his testimony against the other suspects.
Haddock's mother, Joy, addressed the court, speaking directly to Currie.
"You sit here today and get a sentence of the rest of your life in prison," she said. "We got our life sentence on Sept. 11, 2007. We were sentenced to a life without Emily. There is a punishment that never goes away. In my heart, it will never heal. You have taken away a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a friend."
Some 20 members of the Haddock family had filed silently into the courtroom and taken seats in the front rows on the right side, where bailiffs had placed boxes of tissues. As Joy Haddock spoke, soft sniffs and sighs could be heard.
"I don't get to feel her arms around me every day," she said. "Did you know she missed her class trip to Disney World? She missed riding on the Christmas parade float. She is missing high school years, a prom, a wedding, and all those other things little girls grow up to do."
She told Currie of "the picture in my mind of the fear and terror she was in when you came into her home where she should have been safe - with a gun - I cannot ever erase from my mind. It is a burden I will always carry. There is no amount of punishment or justice enough for what you have taken."
"When we go home today, Emily is still not there. We will still do things in her memory and nourish the spark of her life. The memories we have are the only thing you can never take away. May God bless you."
Krueger explained to the court the reason for this plea arrangement, which gave some solace to the family who now know the identity of the person responsible for the girl's death.
"She was a good girl from a good family," Krueger said. "I know, because I have had the privilege of getting to know her family over the last several years. Emily's family has been involved in every step of the case."
That has meant attending countless meetings and court hearings, waiting for trial dates that never seemed to come but were pushed further and further back because of things such as the illness of one defendant's mitigation specialist and requirements of the state's new Racial Justice Act, she told the court.
"Unfortunately, this case has failed to reveal forensic evidence that conclusively and exclusively identified one person as the shooter," Krueger said, pointing out that the case instead relied largely on statements by the various defendants.
"However, we believed that there could have been a potential for appellate issues and post-conviction issues if we relied too heavily on the cooperation of co-defendants."
A death penalty trial, under these circumstances, would mean the jury would be instructed on accomplice liability, and could have found Currie was only an accomplice and recommended a life sentence anyway.
"As a result of this plea, Michael Currie did give a full statement admitting that he was the person who shot and killed Emily Haddock," Krueger said. "The Haddock family now knows, with a certainty, the identity of the person that murdered their little girl.
"They do not have to worry that a once cooperating co-defendant has recanted and that the defendant is thusly granted a new trial. They do not have to wait almost 20 years to see the final punishment meted out ... as the Chalfinch family did in waiting for the execution of David Junior Brown. And while there are three remaining co-defendants, Emily's family and the state are satisfied that, considering the provable facts of this case, the family's need for finality and certainty, and the potential Emmunds jury charge regarding accomplice liability, that it is appropriate for the court to render a sentence of life without parole."
Contact John Chappell at email@example.com.
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