A man charged in the April murder of his girlfriend's 10-year-old son pleaded guilty to murder in court Thursday.
Eugene W. Mays, 39, pleaded guilty to first degree murder in Cabarrus County court, and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Mays was arrested in April after investigators found 10-year-old Mark Ethan Alexander Stewart, and his 32-year-old mother, Christi Melisha Stewart, during a welfare check at a home on South Ridge Avenue the night before.
The 10-year-old was dead. His mother was injured, and was taken to Carolinas Medical Center-Northeast for treatment, officials said.
Mays was located along Forbes Road in Gastonia around 2 a.m. the next day. He was arrested on outstanding misdemeanor warrants for unrelated charges and later charged with first degree murder in Mark Stewart's death.
According to the coroner's report in court Thursday, the 10-year-old endured 63 injuries.
Prosecutors say the boy suffered 11 stab wounds, 25 cutting wounds and 27 blunt force trauma injuries.
They said they believe the child was attempting to stop the violent attack against his mother.
Cabarrus County District Attorney Roxann Vaneekhoven was pleased that Mays agreed to a plea deal.
"It is extremely brutal and heinous, and we can only imagine the horror that little boy went through that evening. Frankly, I think he's a hero," the District Attorney said. "Unfortunately he lost his life protecting his mothers."
Family members left the courthouse without talking to reporters, but Christy Stewart described her son as a straight-A honor roll student who had perfect attendance.
She called Mark, "A mothers dream."
Mark Stewart was in the 5th grade at Royal Oaks Elementary School in Cabarrus County.