Man pleads guilty in brother-in-law's death

Staff WriterAugust 24, 2006 

— A Hillsborough man pleaded guilty Wednesday to unintentionally killing his brother-in-law in a fight that lead to a fatal heart attack.

Gary Scott Draughon, of 1422 New Grady Brown School Road, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter Wednesday in Orange County Superior Court in the death of Earl Wayne Davis, 56, who lived just a few doors down.

Superior Court Judge Orlando F. Hudson Jr. sentenced Draughon to 90 days in prison, followed by 4 years probation. He'll be recommended for work release so that he can keep his job and so his family can afford to keep their house.

The sentence upset several members of Davis' family, including Draughon's sister who was married to the victim. She wanted a harsher punishment. They described Davis as a kind and generous man and said Draughon didn't offer to help Davis when it was clear he was seriously ill.

"Justice was not done today," said Davis' sister, Kaye Thomas, after the hearing.

On Oct. 16, Davis was working in his yard with a neighbor, said Assistant District Attorney Sam Cooper, when Draughon walked onto the lawn and confronted him. The two started to fight, and the neighbor tried to break it up, Cooper said.

Davis fell and appeared to have stopped breathing. He died at the scene.

Thomas said she had spent the night at the Davis family's house following a birthday party for Davis' granddaughter. That morning, the siblings had coffee and laughed together.

"Ten minutes later, I was trying to revive him," she testified.

Sgt. Terrell Tripp of the Orange County Sheriff's Office was the first law enforcement officer at the scene. He was told that Davis had a history of heart problems, Tripp testified.

Staff writer Jessica Rocha can be reached at 932-2008, or jessica.rocha@newsobserver.com.

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