Man sentenced in death of former Onslow County deputy

Man sentenced in death of former Onslow County deputy
Will Welch was sentenced to serve between 13 and 16.5 years in prison. The judge gave him credit for time already served and ordered him to receive mental health treatment while behind bars. (Source: WITN)

ONSLOW COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - A man was sentenced this morning for his role in the murder of a former Onslow County deputy.

Will Welch was sentenced to serve between 13 and 16.5 years in prison. The judge gave him credit for time already served and ordered him to receive mental health treatment while behind bars.

Welch pleaded guilty last March to second-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon, while accomplice Caitlin Ridgeway entered an Alford plea to the same charges in November.

The two were accused in the shooting of 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.

"I live a life of shame and guilt, I acted out of character, and I am truly sorry to you and your children," Welch said to Clifton's ex-wife prior to sentencing.

Both Welch and the ex-wife shed tears in court after the apology.

An autopsy said Clifton was shot five times.

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

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