20-year-old enters Alford plea in murder of former Onslow County deputy

20-year-old enters Alford plea in murder of former Onslow County deputy
Caitlin Ridgeway entered the plea in Onslow County Superior Court on second degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon charges. (Source: WITN)

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - A 20-year-old who is accused of killing a former deputy she had been in a “dating relationship” with entered an Alford plea in court Friday.

Caitlin Ridgeway entered the plea in Onslow County Superior Court on second-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon charges.

In an Alford plea, a defendant acknowledges there is enough evidence for a conviction but doesn’t admit guilt.

Ridgeway was sentenced to serve between 24 and 32 years in prison.

William Welch plead guilty to the same charges back in March and he is awaiting sentencing

The two are accused of fatally shooting former Onslow County deputy William Clifton, 48, of Richlands back in 2017.

Welch told detectives that he saw Clifton at Woodlands Park, hugging and kissing then 17-year-old Ridgeway. Prosecutors say there was no evidence that the relationship was not consensual, and the legal age of consent is 16.

“It’s a difficult case," said Assistant District Attorney Bob Rupe. "Will was very liked and very respected by those of us who worked in the court system with him. It’s hard to say you ever get justice when someone is murdered because they never come back. But considering the evidence we had and the totality of the case, I think it was a reasonable outcome”

The autopsy revealed that Clifton was shot five times. Rupe says Welch was also involved in a relationship with Ridgeway at the time.

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