Man Sentenced in Shooting Death of His Wife
BY JOHN CHAPPELL
A Moore County man will spend at least 12 years in prison in connection with his wife's death.
Randy Baughn on Friday pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for shooting his wife to death in their bedroom three years ago. He has contended that her death was accidental.
According to court testimony, Baughn gave several varying accounts of the night in 2009 when Abigail Baughn was fatally shot behind her right ear. In one, he said he'd been trying to kill himself, and she tried to stop him.
In the struggle over the pistol, somehow a shot was fired. In another version, he said he'd asked her to bring him his weapon so he could shoot an otter, then heard a shot from the bedroom where she'd gone to get the gun.
While Baughn later told a number of people he had killed his wife - a well-known and beloved school teacher and assistant principal - he always insisted what had happened was accidental.
The state first agreed to accept a guilty plea to the lesser charge of second-degree murder with a sentence of seven to 10 years. Senior Resident Superior Court Judge James M. Webb rejected that plea when it was presented last Wednesday.
After that original plea bargain collapsed in court that day, prosecutors and defense attorneys worked out a new plea agreement and presented it to Webb on Friday. Webb accepted this one.
Baughn entered an "in my best interest" Alford plea of guilty to one count of second-degree murder. His plea was not a confession of actual guilt. Instead, the defendant decides pleading guilty (usually to a lesser charge) is in his best interest.
The defense had always contended Baughn's wife was killed by accident. She died May 24, 2009, from a single shot fired in her bedroom from a .357 revolver.
A grand jury indicted her husband for first-degree murder. His trial had been set to begin Nov. 26.
Baughn will serve between 12 to 15 years in prison.
Defense attorney James R. Van Camp said the defense had always contended Baughn's wife died as the result of a tragic accident.
"This was a tragic event, tragic," Van Camp said. "He felt fully responsible."
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or jfchappell @gmail.com.
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