Two people heading to prison for child’s death following abuse over 25 years ago

Two people heading to prison for child’s death following abuse over 25 years ago
Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 12:10 PM EDT
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BRUNSWICK CO., N.C. (WECT) - Two people are heading into prison in connection to a child abuse case out of Longwood dating back to 1997.

David Raeford Tripp Jr. pleaded guilty to murder Friday and was sentenced to between 237 and 294 months in prison in connection to the 2018 death of David Cody Stuart due to injuries dating back to 1997 in Longwood.

Robyn Noffsinger pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on June 26 and was sentenced to 130 and 165 months in prison Friday. Stuart’s adoptive parents, Beth Schmitt and Elei Stuart, say they feel justice has been served.

“I can breathe finally. And I think I’m gonna exhale today. My most important thing is I feel like other people are going to be held accountable. And David’s case is going to be backing up other people,” Elei Stuart said.

They said David had a gentle, kind spirit.

”We tried to give him the best life. He held on for us. He did that for us.”

Officials say that they were sentenced in the initial 1997 child abuse case involving then-15-month-old David. Tripp served just over six years in prison, and Noffsinger served just over seven years.

Noffsinger is Stuart’s birth mother, and she was dating Tripp at the time of the abuse.

Stuart, whose original last name was Rhinehart, was 22 when he died in 2018.

District Attorney Jon David has said that the beatings left Stuart permanently disabled, taking away his ability to walk and talk. A medical examiner found that he died due to his injuries from the 1997 assault.

“Everybody was here for David...We want to remember him happy,” Stuart said.