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North Carolina Man Gets Life For Fatal Point-Blank Shooting Of 5-Year-Old Neighbor On Bicycle
Darius Sessoms submitted an Alford plea for the 2020 murder of Cannon Hinnant, who he shot in front of the boy's sisters while they were playing outside.
A North Carolina man has pleaded guilty to the senseless slaying of a five-year-old boy playing outside.
Darius Sessoms, 25, will spend the rest of his life behind bars without the possibility of parole for the 2020 shooting of Cannon Hinnant, according to NBC Raleigh affiliate WRAL-TV. The sentence comes as part of Sessoms’ Alford plea — essentially a guilty plea in which a person declines to admit their crimes but acknowledges the state has enough evidence to convict.
In October, a judge ruled that prosecutors in Sessoms’ case could proceed with capital murder charges due to the heinous nature of the crime, according to CBS Raleigh affiliate WNCN. Wednesday’s Alford plea for first-degree murder will spare Sessoms the death penalty.
Cannon’s mother, Bonny Parker, told reporters in 2020 that she would fight to see Sessoms executed.
“I pray he gets the death penalty. We will fight for that ’til the end,” Parker stated. “It would mean the closest we can get to justice for Cannon.”
On Wednesday, Parker said that Sessoms’ plea was for the best so that Cannon’s sisters — who were 7 and 8 when allegedly witnessing Cannon’s murder — would not have to face their brother’s killer in court, WRAL-TV reported.
“It brings us a little bit of peace, knowing that we are walking out of here today and we don’t have to come back,” said Parker. “We don’t have to see him. My girls do not have to testify in court. That was the whole reason he took this plea. It was best for him to take this plea so it would not have to get our girls up there.”
Parker referred to her son as her “pride and joy,” stating that Sessoms’ actions “made us suffer for the rest of our lives.”
On Aug. 9, 2020, Cannon was riding his bicycle in front of his father’s Archers Road home in Wilson, which is about 50 miles east of Raleigh. Witnesses described seeing a “burst of flame” when Sessoms — who lived next door — approached Cannon, pressed a gun against his head, and pulled the trigger.
Neighbor Doris Lybrand witnessed the shooting but claimed she thought it was a game, per WRAL-TV.
“My first reaction was he’s playing with the kids,” Lybrand stated. “For a second, I thought, ‘That couldn’t happen.’ People don’t run across the street and kill kids.”
A motive was never released by authorities, though Sessoms’ parents later said they believed their son was on drugs and experiencing hallucinations at the time of the murder, according to Fox Atlanta affiliate WAGA-TV.
Cannon was transported to the Wilson Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries, according to the Wilson Police Department.
“He was merely doing what he would do any other day, and that’s playing with his sisters, riding his bike, doing what kids do, and all of the innocence that comes with being a child,” Cannon’s grandmother, Gwen Hinnant, wrote in a GoFundMe campaign. “This family has faced unimaginable pain because of this senseless act of violence.”
Sessoms fled after the shooting and was arrested the next day at a home in Goldsboro, some 30 miles south of the crime scene, according to police.
On Sept. 22, 2020, Sessoms’ then-girlfriend, 21-year-old Aolani Takemi Marie Pettit, was charged with accessory after the fact, according to police. Pettit was charged with helping Sessoms flee by “providing transportation away from the city of Wilson,” according to The Wilson Times.
Pettit pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice charges and was sentenced to serve four to 14 months suspended, plus 18 months supervised probation, per WRAL-TV.