Man pleads guilty to role in murder of blind man during home invasion

Man pleads guilty to role in murder of blind man during home invasion
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 4:09 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A Wilmington man has been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for his role in a 2020 home invasion and murder.

On Thursday, James Girlee Hardy, 41, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, attempted armed robbery and first-degree kidnapping in New Hanover County Superior Court.

Officials say that Hardy and another suspect forced their way into the Pinecrest Parkway home of Donald Wayne Gurganious, a blind man, on March 4, 2020.

Gurganious, 57, was shot in the chest and later died after being taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center. A woman who was inside the home during the incident reported that she was held down by a man wearing a clown mask while the other suspect shot Gurganious after a brief struggle. Officials say she was left unharmed.

“Wilmington police were able to obtain surveillance footage from other homes and businesses in the area that helped to quickly identify the vehicle Hardy drove to the scene,” the District Attorney’s Office said in a news release. “The car, which was leased in his wife’s name, also had a GPS tracking device installed by the leaser that confirmed the vehicle’s movements that night. Video images captured Hardy and another man exiting the car after parking near Gurganious’ home and leaving in the vehicle minutes later. Other images showed Hardy arriving at his home on South 4th Street shortly after leaving Pinecrest Parkway.

“Police searched Hardy’s home and recovered a handgun from his wife. Ballistics testing confirmed that the gun seized was the same gun used to kill Gurganious. Hardy ultimately confessed to his role in the robbery attempt, but claimed the other suspect shot Gurganious. He told police that the two targeted Gurganious because they believed he had a large amount of pills inside of his residence.”

At this point, no other arrests have been made in this case. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Wilmington Police Department at 910-343-3620.

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