08/08/14 — Two men get jail time for murders

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Two men get jail time for murders

By John Joyce
Published in News on August 8, 2014 1:46 PM

The state accepted guilty pleas in two separate murder cases in Wayne County Superior Court Wednesday.

One of the cases dates back six years.

Herman Philip Best, 51, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the June 2008 beating death of Martha Cook Carter, 45.

Best turned himself in to the Wayne County Sheriff's Office the day after the killing, but not before a neighbor witnessed him burning trash in his front yard under the light of a flashlight at 3 that morning.

Best and the victim had been living together as boyfriend and girlfriend.

Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Arnold O. Jones sentenced Best to 110 to 141 months, up to nearly 12 years, in prison. He was given credit for the 2,205 days in jail he has already served.

In a separate case, 35-year-old Benjamin Adonis Thomas will serve 144 to 185 months in prison for the April 2013 shooting death of his brother, Richard Sylvester Thomas, 28.

Thomas, seated in the back seat of an SUV, shot and killed his younger sibling who was seated in the front seat, as the vehicle pulled into the front yard of their aunt and uncle's residence at 2572 New Hope Road in LaGrange.

Thomas fled the area but was soon picked up by a Lenoir County sheriff's deputy and brought back to the scene.

Thomas sat handcuffed in the back of the police vehicle and refused to tell deputies from both counties where he had disposed of the murder weapon.

Finally, when the late Wayne County sheriff Carey Winders arrived on the scene and spoke privately with Thomas, the suspect relented. The weapon was recovered a short time later from a ditch just up the road.

Thomas will serve at least 12 and as many as 15 years in prison, and received 473 days credit for time served.