Three teens and a 20-year-old who faced murder charges following the death of a Cary teen found severely injured in Walnut Street Park on June 26 have all pleaded guilty to lesser charges.
The pleas close a case in which attorneys for the defendants described the death of Katherine Ann Burdick-Crow – or Katie, as the Green Hope High School student was known – as an accident, not murder.
The arrests occurred after Burdick-Crow got into an altercation with a group she had arranged to sell marijuana to at the park, according to court documents. Police say two of the accused teens took a small bag of marijuana from her and ran after she refused to show the group what they would be buying.
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The teens and the 20-year-old who planned to buy the marijuana had ridden together to the park area in a 2003 Ford F150 pickup truck. After they took the marijuana from Burdick-Crow, the teens raced toward the pickup truck. She followed.
Burdick-Crow jumped on the side rail of the truck and reached in through the driver’s side window as the group tried to drive off. As she tried to stop the truck, the driver, Joshua Odell Simmons, 17, punched Burdick-Crow in the face several times through the window.
Burdick-Crow fell to the pavement and died the next day at WakeMed Raleigh hospital.
Simmons, a rising senior at Cary’s Panther Creek High School, was charged with murder the next day. Others accused were Jourdan Chanquion Mack, 20, who graduated from Green Hope High in 2014; Abijah James Masse, 17, a Green Hope High student; and Beth Marie Strange, 18, a Panther Creek High School graduate.
On Tuesday, Mack pleaded guilty to common law robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery and was sentenced to 14 to 35 months in prison. He was given credit for the more than five months he has already been in jail. Judge Donald Stephens noted that he had accepted responsibility at an early stage and considered that to be a mitigating factor in sentencing.
Strange, of Fallborough Court in Morrisville, pleaded guilty on Friday to common law robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. She was given a six-month jail sentence and given credit for the 150 days she has served. She also will be on supervised probation for two years. She was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service and pay $4,900 in attorney fees.
Simmons, the driver, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 16 to 29 months in prison. Simmons, who also pleaded guilty to common law robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery, will be on two years of probation after his prison term.
Masse, 17, of Narrow Leaf Drive in Morrisville, also pleaded guilty Friday to common law robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. He was sentenced to at least six months in prison but given credit for the 150 days he has served in jail since his arrest. He also will be on supervised probation for two years. He must do 100 hours of community service; Judge Stephens suggested he speak to young people about the impact of the experience.
Burdick-Crow’s parents were in the courtroom for the pleas but told prosecutors they were not interested in speaking with the media afterward.