Yesterday, a Robeson County jury returned a life without parole sentence, following the first degree murder conviction of Carlos Keels. Keels was convicted for the beating death of a young child, after she wet herself.
The jury rejected the only aggravating factor submitted-- E-HAC-- especially heinous, atrocious or cruel. In the guilt phase, the jury only convicted on 1st degree murder under the theory of felony murder (felony child abuse), rejecting two other submitted theory--premeditation and death by torture. The defense successfully argued that, in rejecting torture as a theory of 1st degree murder, the jury had effectively rejected the E-HAC claim. The jury agreed and returned a life sentence with no aggravators found. Mr. Keels was 22 at the time of his crime. Under NC law, which forbids parole in cases since 1994, he will die in prison.
This brings to close a very expensive trial in Robeson County, that began well over two months ago.