DA files for death penalty, search warrants unsealed in Maggie D - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

DA files for death penalty, search warrants unsealed in Maggie Daniels' death


The Catawba County District Attorney has filed a motion to seek the death penalty against the man accused of killing a popular Newton-Conover school employee .

Sharman Howard Odom was indicted two weeks ago by a Catawba County Grand Jury in the death of Margaret "Maggie" Elizabeth Daniels on June 27.

Daniels' body was found inside her apartment on June 28.

The motion for a Rule 24 hearing was made public at the Catawba County courthouse early Thursday morning. It was filed on August 19.

The hearing is held before a judge in first degree murder cases. The purpose is to determine whether the state will be seeking the death penalty in the case.

Odom was charged with first degree murder, first degree sexual offense and first degree kidnapping in Daniels' death. 

Odom was taken into custody Aug. 2 at his mother's home in Winston-Salem.

"The State submits there is evidence to support the existence of one or more aggravating circumstances," the motion stated. "The State is seeking the death penalty in the event the defendant is convicted of First Degree Murder."

Read the full Rule 24 motion here

An official date has not been set for the hearing, but the motion request the hearing be held within 45 days of the filing. That would make the deadline on or before Friday, Oct. 2.

Three new search warrants were also released Thursday morning with the Rule 24 motion. They include two searches of Odom's apartment on July 25 and July 26 along with a search of Odom, himself.

According to the search warrants, investigators searched an apartment along the 100-block of West 17th Street in Newton belonging to Odom.

At the time of Daniels' death, she and Odom lived in the same apartment complex.

Investigators indicated they were searching for any device "capable of capturing or storing a digital image, " computers or storage devices and passwords to log in.

"Persons that may have been involved in the commission of a homicide will utilize portable electronic devices to communicate with others regarding the incident or its concealment as well as take images of the scene," the warrant states.

**WARNING: Some of the following information is considered graphic and may not be suitable for all readers**

In the warrant, officers say they found Daniels' body on the floor of the bedroom inside her apartment on June 28 around 10:30 a.m. Daniels was found wearing only a pair of shorts, with a yellow towel between her feet.

"Several items of furniture in the bedroom were damaged or askew, suggesting a struggle occurred in the bedroom," the probable cause section of the warrant stated. "There were ligature marks on Daniels' neck, suggesting she was strangled."

Investigators say there was no signs of unforced entry into Daniels' apartment, but the front door was unlocked.

An autopsy was performed two days later at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the incident was deemed a homicide.

WEB EXTRAS: Read the full search warrant Part One | Part Two

During the autopsy, the medical examiner completed a sexual assault kit. Tests found the presence of human semen in multiple swabs taken from Daniels.

"Curly hairs, inconsistent with the victim's hair, were located on [Daniels] and throughout the apartment," the warrant states. Some were found between Daniels' fingers.

Investigators say a bottle of "Scrubbing Bubbles" with bleach was found inside Daniels' apartment and there was an unknown stain on her back. Investigators say the bottle was probably used to clean Daniels.

"Odom is a known car detailer and has cleaning chemicals in his work vehicle," the warrant stated.

According to the warrant, a witness told investigators they saw Odom walking between Daniels' apartment and the building next door.  This was around noon the day before investigators found her body.

The witness told investigators he thought it was odd because he'd never seen Odom there before.

Odom told the man that he was walking back from an auto repair shop near the apartments after checking on the progress of his van.

About five hours later, a woman told investigators she saw a man, matching Odom's description, walking from the back of Daniels' apartment towards the front of the building. She said she'd never seen him there before.

The woman told investigators she was out walking with her children and they were all sweating because it was hot outside, but she noticed that Odom was not sweating when she saw him.

Investigators say the temperature the day Daniels was killed was 87 degrees and the auto repair shop Odom claimed he was at was along the 1900 block of Northwest Boulevard, which is a mile away from Daniels' apartment.

The owner of the auto shop says Odom's van was towed to his shop on Friday and picked up on Saturday, but Odom did not stop by on Friday. Odom claimed he was waiting at the repair shop for four hours.

Several witnesses told investigators that Odom, who was "frequently 'in and out' of the area," changed his behavior after Daniels' death.

Investigators noted that surveillance of Odom showed he would stay in his apartment for what appeared to be lengthy periods and he would leave the area for days at a time.

Odom's neighbor told investigators that Odom had mentioned Daniels numerous times in the past, saying that she was very attractive and he wanted to "get with" her.

According to the witness, Odom had shown him photos of Daniels from her Instagram and Twitter accounts about six weeks before her death.

Odom reportedly told the man that Daniels' had a boyfriend that only came into the area on the weekends.

The neighbor told investigators that he spoke with Odom frequently and that Odom appeared to know the habits of other women as well, making statements like "that girl lives by herself."

Another man told police that Odom had once asked him if Daniels "dated black men" and once he found out that Daniels had a boyfriend said " it didn't matter.

The neighbor described Odom as "creepy," saying he would often sit in his vehicle, with the ignition off, from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. looking at an electronic device.

The mother of Daniels' boyfriend said she had seen Odom staring at Daniels while she was sun bathing.

She told investigators that she and Daniels often took walks in the evenings and Odom was often outside his apartment when they were walking and would stare at them, making them uncomfortable.

Daniels' boyfriend was in South Carolina at the time of her death.

When questioned by investigators, Odom denied in association with Daniels and said he'd only spoken to her in passing. He also told investigators that he'd never been inside her apartment.

An investigator noted in the search warrant that, during his first interview with investigators, Odom had a patch of hair missing from the front of his head. The investigator believed the patch was the result of a struggle.

Investigators say they took DNA samples from multiple people in the investigation and Odom is the only one who refused "stating he did not trust law enforcement."

During the autopsy investigators found white hairs that were between two and four inches long on her body.

Investigators say Daniels did not have any pets, but her mentor did have a pair of dogs that Daniels frequently played with. 

According to the warrant, while they were searching Odom's apartment, officers found a "wet, rectangular, cardboard box with clumps of wet hair" on the back porch. They say it appeared a vaccum cleaner was dumped in the box and left outside.

The hairs in the box matched the hairs that were on Daniels' body, investigators say.

Odom has twice been charged with rape in Mecklenburg County, once in 2010 and another time in 2012. In both cases, Odom was charged with rape, strangulation and common law robbery.

In October 2010, he was charged with kidnapping, first degree burglary and robbery with a dangerous weapon.

A prosecutor said in the court file that there were problems with evidence. The victim was a prostitute, money was exchanged, and there were credibility issues on both sides.

When WBTV spoke with the woman who filed that police report, she said she was not a prostitute, and that she and Odom actually dated a little.

Read more about Odom's past charges in Mecklenburg County

She said the night of the attack, she thought she would die. 

"He strangled me to the point of no return. I was just asking him to please stop and he didn't say nothing, he just kept choking me," she said. WBTV is protecting her identity, which is standard in cases of sexual assault. 

A woman who was raped in December 2012 says a man, believed to be Odom, held a rag over her face which had a chemical smell. Odom lived in the same apartment complex as the victim at the time of the rape.

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