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A Bladenboro man was sentenced up to 26 years Thursday after entering a guilty plea to second degree murder in the shooting death of Crystal McLamb of Tar Heel in 2016.

Kelly Dwayne Hamilton, 47, of Bladenboro, entered the plea Wednesday in Bladen County Superior Court, according to the Bladen County District Attorney’s Office. He was sentenced Thursday to between 252 months and 315 months following more than three hours of testimony, according to a news release.

Kelly Dwayne Hamilton during a court appearance in 2016

Hamilton was charged in the shooting death of McLamb, 44, on Feb. 11, 2016. The shooting occurred at Hamilton’s residence at Ruby Kidds Road, off Singletary Mill Pond Road, near Bladenboro, according to records.

Investigators said that Hamilton called the 911 center at 3:02 a.m. on Feb. 11, 2016, to report that McLamb had accidentally shot herself. When investigators arrived on scene, McLamb’s body was found on the couch with a single gunshot wound to the face.

Hamilton maintained that he had left a loaded Taurus Judge revolver on the coffee table and that McLamb accidentally shot herself while picking up the gun, the release said.

However, according to investigators, two shots were fired from the weapon within the living room. Evidence collected from the scene showed that Hamilton had replaced one of the two spent shell casings with an unfired round, A spent shell casing was later found hidden underneath a mattress in Hamilton’s bedroom, according to testimony. Testing confirmed that the hidden shell casing had been fired from the weapon that had been on the coffee table.

Hamilton was arrested on Feb. 12, 2016, and charged with first-degree murder.

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