An Autryville man will spend between 25 and 31 years in prison for the 2014 murder of 15-year-old Danielle Locklear.
The sentence for Je’Michael Devanair Malloy, 19, followed his acceptance of a plea agreement Friday in Cumberland County Superior Court. Under the agreement, Malloy, who was 17 when he murdered Locklear, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Malloy and his mother apologized to Locklear’s family, who wore pink ribbons and filled one side of the courtroom. Many family members told Malloy they may forgive him one day, but no time soon. Many expressed anger toward him, and many cried as they sat in the benches.
“I’m sorry, but it’s hard for me right now,” said Locklear’s mother, Rowna Fowler, as she stared straight at Malloy. “That was the only baby I had. I can’t have any more children, and you took that away from me. Je’Michael, you ripped out my soul.”
District Attorney Billy West laid out details of the case:
Locklear left her home about 9:45 p.m. on March 11, 2014, telling her grandfather she was taking a book to a friend and would return soon.
Instead, she went to meet Malloy, her estranged boyfriend. The two had argued sometime earlier, after Locklear told Malloy she was pregnant and he threatened to kill her if she came over. (Locklear was not pregnant.)
On March 15, an aunt found Locklear’s fuzzy black and gray sock on a path in Hope Mills that led to Rockfish Creek.
Three days later, Malloy took a polygraph test that “showed exceptions.” He continued to deny any involvement in Locklear’s disappearance.
On March 22, Malloy participated in an unsuccessful search for Locklear’s body, which was found April 2 in the South River, off Hollow Bridge Road near Autryville. Locklear’s body had been thrown off a bridge. Cinder blocks had been tied to her ankles and around her waist.
Malloy confessed to the murder April 8, after consulting with his lawyer, D.W. Bray.
The state Medical Examiner’s Office ruled asphyxiation as the cause of death. West said Malloy strangled Locklear on the path in Hope Mills and later stuffed a sock in her mouth when he heard sounds coming from her. His friend, Dominic Tayvon Lock, stood nearby but did not participate in the murder.
But West said Lock helped dispose of the body. Lock, 19, of Cade Hill Avenue, is charged with accessory after the fact of first-degree murder and is being held in the Cumberland County jail without bail.
During the hearing, Malloy and his mother apologized to Locklear’s family.
“I know sorry doesn’t cut it, but I also want to say I’m truly sorry,” Malloy said, turning to face the family in his orange, jail-issued jumpsuit.
Malloy’s mother thanked family members for showing mercy – they could have sought a drawn-out trial and a potentially harsher sentence – but agreed to the plea.
“You did not have to do it, but you let love in your heart. Deep love,” Cynthia Malloy told the family.
The family was not forgiving.
Locklear’s mother, Fowler, stood shaking as she addressed Malloy.
“You’re still alive, but my baby is not,” Fowler told him. “She’s in the grave. I pray for your soul.”
Judge Jim Ammons allowed family member after family member to speak to Malloy and to talk about Locklear, who had been a ninth-grader at South View High School.
Locklear’s aunt, Chena Simmons, called Malloy a sociopath and a narcissist who shows no emotion.
“You didn’t have to kill her. You could have walked away,” Simmons said. “At least today we can begin to find some solace and begin to heal.”
Prosecutors offered Malloy a plea deal in March. He was given 30 days to accept or reject the offer. Under that deal, Malloy would have pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and been sentenced to life in prison.
He would have been eligible for parole after 25 years because he was under 18 at the time of the murder.
Sometime after the March hearing, prosecutors changed the offer to second-degree murder.