Former Deputy Not Charged with Murder

Peyton Strickland
Peyton Strickland

NEW HANOVER CO. -- It's a stunning turn around. The murder charge against former New Hanover County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Long has been dropped due to a mistake.

WECT was first to report that the second degree murder charge in connection with 18-year-old Peyton Strickland's death had been dropped.

According to Long's attorney, Mike McGuinness, the foreman for the grand jury checked the wrong box on the indictment. McGuinness says this means Long faces no charges. He says his client was obviously relieved by the news.

Peyton Strickland's family is understandably confused by these developments. They released a statement:

"This is bizarre. How can an indictment one day not be an indictment the next? How could this happen? Yesterday, our son's murderer was going to have to answer for what he did. Today, we just don't know what is going on in Wilmington. We are upset, confused and searching for answers. We call on the judge presiding over the grand jury to hold an inquiry into what happened here and make the results public.  And, if it shows that anyone even attempted to influence the grand jury, we trust charges of obstructing justice will be filed."

Sheriff Sid Causey says Long will not be reinstated to the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office. He says his decision to fire Long came from an internal investigation separate from the criminal investigation.

Reported by Kacey Gaumer