Murder trial ends in plea deal

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In a surprise twist, the defendant on trial in the 2018 killing of a Wilson man took a plea deal Thursday afternoon right before the state rested its case.

Kelvin Raynard Mangum Jr., 28, who officials say stabbed 50-year-old Bobby Romale Jones, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

The first-degree murder trial, which lasted several days, came to a halt shortly after jurors took an afternoon break. Mangum entered an Alford plea, an arrangement in which a defendant doesn’t admit guilt but acknowledges there is likely enough evidence to ensure a conviction.

Pitt County Superior Court Judge Marvin K. Blount sentenced Mangum to 25 to 31 years in prison.


Jones’ sister addressed the court after Mangum pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

“I know his life was taken from him for no reason,” Wanda Jones-Spells said of her brother. “He took a life for nothing.”

Jones-Spells told the court she hoped Mangum suffers while he’s in prison. She said the family has been in a lot of pain since her brother’s death.

She also said Mangum decided to take a plea deal because he knew the trial wasn’t going in his favor and he would have risked life in prison.

Mangum addressed the court and said Jones came at him that day in a disrespectful way.

“I’m sorry for the situation that occurred,” he said.


On March 17, 2018, police responded to 709 Suggs St. and found Jones lying in a nearby parking lot with stab wounds to his chest.

Mangum was found hiding in a closet in his mother’s Hines Street home a short distance from where the crime occurred, according to court testimony. Police found blood in his mother’s sink and a boot. Police also found Jones’ blood on Magnum’s pants, which tested positive for Jones’ DNA, according to court testimony.

Magnum claimed Jones rushed him and grabbed his legs after an argument ensued that day, according to police testimony and the defendant’s recorded interview with authorities.

Mangum told police that somebody else must have stabbed Jones when he left the scene, according to court testimony.

Mangum’s family could be heard crying in the audience as the bailiffs took him away.

Wilson County Assistant District Attorney Joel Stadiem prosecuted the case and defense attorney Tom Sallenger represented Mangum.