Andrew Dalzell – Not Over Yet
I had heard from Carrboro officials that Dalzell was going to be faced with further dire consequences,
but Carrboro better rethink their strategy if this is the best they can muster.
Man who had murder charges dropped faces sex charges
BY JENNIFER FERRIS : The Herald-Sun
email@example.comJul 27, 2005 : 7:20 pm ET
HILLSBOROUGH — Andrew Dalzell, who had murder charges dropped earlier this year, has been indicted by a grand jury on five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.
But Orange-Chatham District Attorney Jim Woodall said Wednesday that while the indictment is for felony charges, even if convicted, Dalzell might not spend any time in jail.
“He may actually be eligible for probation,” Woodall said. “Even someone with a moderate record can be eligible for probation.”
Woodall said the maximum sentence for third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor is 15 months in jail but the judge could sentence Dalzell — who had faced a potential life sentence for the murder more than seven years ago of Deborah Leigh Key — to only three months and then suspend the sentence.
Dalzell could then face 18 months of probation, Woodall said.
But the district attorney acknowledged that because a Superior Court judge found last January that Dalzell’s confession in the murder case has been illegally obtained by Carrboro police, the new indictments might be difficult to prove.
“There may be some similar legal issues,” Woodall said, noting that Dalzell’s attorney might file motions regarding the legality of the gathering of evidence concerning the new charges. He added, though, that he believed the January ruling wouldn’t affect the new case.
Dalzell’s lawyer, Orange-Chatham Public Defender Susan Seahorn, did not return calls for comment.
After Judge Wade Barber threw out Dalzell’s confession in January, the DA’s office later dropped the murder charge. However, while searching Dalzell’s apartment during the murder investigation, police had found, they said, child pornography on his computer.
The only serious charges that remain for Dalzell are now those of being in possession of pictures of children under the age of 13 engaging in sexual activity.
When police arrested Dalzell on several minor charges last fall, they elicited a confession after convincing him he was being arrested for the 1997 murder of Key, whose body has never been found. They showed him a fake arrest warrant and a fake letter from the district attorney.
Dalzell, who had been the prime suspect in the case, confessed to Key’s murder and told officers he put her body in a Dumpster in Wilmington.
Joy Preslar, a longtime friend of Key’s, said that after her hopes for a murder conviction were dashed, the best she can hope for is Dalzell’s conviction as a sexual offender.
“We’d like to keep tabs on him,” Preslar said Wednesday. “If he is a sex offender we can keep track of him and someone will be alerted when he is in their community.”
Preslar said that while she and Key’s other friends would like to see Dalzell serving jail time, she doesn’t expect that it will happen.
“We’ve learned not to hope for much about this,” Preslar said. “Justice is not always served in court.”
Dalzell’s next court appearance on the new charges is set for Aug. 23. Woodall said a plea of guilty or not guilty may be entered at that time, but it is not required.