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Man involved in death of former Elizabethtown resident seeks to avoid death penalty

One of three people charged with the murder of former Elizabethtown resident Melissa Huggins-Jones two years ago in her Raleigh apartment was in court Monday seeking to have the death penalty removed as an option if he is convicted.

Lawyers for Travion Devonte Smith, 22, of Raleigh, said in court Monday that the state withheld information about the case, WRAL-TV reported. The judge has not ruled on the motion. Smith is scheduled to go on trial in January for the slaying.

Ronald Lee Anthony was sentenced to life in prison in September in the beating and stabbing death of Huggins-Jones in May 2013 inside her Allister North Hills Apartments home off Six Forks Road in Raleigh. Sarah Jane Redden of Wake Forest also is charged and agreed to testify against the two men.

Huggins-Jones, who was 30, had moved to Raleigh from Cleveland, Tennessee, two weeks earlier for a new job. She graduated from East Bladen High School in 2000. Several members of Huggins-Jones’ family still live in Bladen County.

An autopsy determined Huggins-Jones died from blunt force trauma.

Huggins-Jones’ body was discovered May 14, 2013, covered in blood, after her then 8-year-old daughter had left the home shortly before 7:30 a.m. and asked a construction worker for help.

A laptop stolen from the apartment directly below Huggins-Jones turned up in Wake Forest, and investigators were able to use DNA evidence to link the computer to the suspects, according to reports.

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