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Death penalty sought against accused murderer

WINTON – The man accused of killing two elderly Virginia women more than two years ago will perhaps face death himself if found guilty of the crime.

On Thursday, the State of North Carolina, during a Rule 24 hearing held in the Hertford County Superior Courtroom, declared the legal proceedings against accused murderer William Curtis Futrell of Franklin, Va. as a capital case. That judicial maneuvering means the state will seek the death penalty against Futrell once this case goes before a jury.

No trial date has been scheduled.

Thursday’s court session came on the heels of the Hertford County Grand Jury, earlier this week, returning true bills of indictment for two counts of murder in the first degree against Futrell. The 34-year-old defendant stands accused of murdering Dorothy Hobbs, 74, and her 71-year-old sister Nellie Bradley on Aug. 4, 2006. Their lifeless bodies were discovered at 7:38 p.m. that day by an unidentified Murfreesboro resident in a wooded area along a farm path less than one mile north of town off Vaughan’s Creek Road.

An autopsy later revealed the two sisters died of stab wounds.

Terry Alford and Ernest Conner have been assigned by the Office of the Capital Defender in Raleigh to represent Futrell. According to North Carolina law, the state is responsible for appointing attorneys to represent defendants in first degree murder cases if those defendants cannot afford legal representation.

Futrell was arrested on the morning of Nov. 20 in Franklin, Va. He was transported to the Hertford County Detention Center in Winton where he is held without bond.

Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan said the arrest was made based on the evidence collected during the course of the investigation. He did not elaborate on what role, if any, the DNA evidence collected during that investigation played in the arrest. Vaughan added that Futrell became a suspect based on recent findings in the case.

The two sisters were last seen alive in Boykins, Va. at approximately 4:15 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 4, 2006. There, they were seen dropping off a donation for Relay for Life at Boykins Baptist Church.

The vehicle in which the two were traveling – a 1996 Ford, black in color – was found at approximately 11:30 p.m. that same day behind an abandoned residence near Boykins.

Boykins is located just across the state line, approximately 17 miles northwest of Murfreesboro. Vaughan’s Creek Road is a popular shortcut route shared by residents of both states.

The FBI, SBI, Northampton County Sheriff’s Office, Southampton County (Va.) Sheriff’s Office and the Murfreesboro Police Department joined the Hertford County’s Sheriff Office in investigating this crime.