NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – A man accused of murdering a 24-year-old woman in 2012 pleaded guilty Monday to first degree murder. He will spend the rest of his life in jail.
Andrew Bernard Adams was charged in 2012 with first degree murder in connection to the death of Latricia Ana Scott. Her body was found buried in the backyard of a home on Cowan Street in January 2012.
Prosecutors in New Hanover County were hoping for the death penalty, but Adams will instead serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole because of the guilty plea.
"Today's plea ensures that one of the most evil defendants this area has ever seen will die in prison and will never again be a free man," said Assistant District Attorney Dru Lewis. "Given the heinous nature of this crime and the defendant's terrible criminal history, the State has always insisted that the defendant be punished to the maximum extent of the law. Today he was."
Investigators said in 2012 Adams gave them a written confession in 2012 stating he did murder Scott.
Adams later told WECT he made up the confession in an effort to cover for the person who really was responsible for Scott's death. He went on to tell WECT he did, however, help bury Scott's body.
Adams had previously served 30 years in prison for a series of rapes in the 1970s. He was charged in 2012 in connection to a cold case from 1977. He was charged with first degree murder and rape of Gwendolyn Nelson of New Bern. According to New Bern Police, the case went cold after several years but was reopened in 2007.
Adams will be transferred to Craven County where he will enter a guilty plea to second-degree murder and second-degree rape.
According to the District Attorney's Office, he will receive another life sentence for each offense under the sentencing law in effect in 1977.
District Attorney Ben David says Adams cannot be charged with the death penalty because under North Carolina State law, he is mentally retarded.
"Had we had any discretion we would have tried Mr. Adams for his life. We don't," said David, "our job first and foremost is to uphold the law, and the law is written so someone who is mentally retarded is ineligible for the death penalty."
According to the City of New Bern, Adams is a registered sex offender. State records show he has served many years in prison for various offenses. Most recently he was in prison from 1979-2007 for sex offenses convictions in Craven and New Hanover counties.
Adams will serve out his sentences in Central Prison in Raleigh.