Death penalty sought

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, January 30, 2018

WINDSOR – An inmate accused in last year’s murder of officer here at Bertie Correctional Institution may face the death penalty if convicted.

Last week, local District Attorney Valerie Asbell conducted a hearing in Bertie County Superior Court and told the court that she was seeking the death penalty in the case of Craig Clifford Wissink. Prior to that Asbell had filed a motion to declare this case capital.


Wissink was charged with first degree murder in the April 29, 2017 death of Sergeant Meggan Lee Callahan, 29, of Edenton. The investigation into the officer’s death found that Callahan was responding to a trash can fire in a dormitory of Bertie Correctional Institution. She got a fire extinguisher and attempted to put out the fire. Wissink immediately attacked the sergeant and a struggle ensued. The inmate managed to get the fire extinguisher away from Callahan and used it in the assault. Sgt. Callahan sustained injuries from the attack, which ultimately led to her death.

Asbell and Assistant District Attorney Lisa Coltrain represented the State of North Carolina and Attorney Ernest (Buddy) Conner represented the Wissink at last week’s court proceedings.

During the hearing, Asbell told Judge Quentin T. Sumner that the State had at least one aggravating factor to proceed with this case capitally.

After hearing from the state and the defense, Judge Sumner declared the case capital and asked the Capital Defender’s Office secure a second attorney for Wissink.

Wissink was at Bertie Correctional serving a life sentence for a first degree murder conviction in Cumberland County. In that crime – which occurred in Fayetteville on the night of June 27, 2000 – he killed a man with a shotgun blast to the chest following a home invasion.

Records show that Wissink was transferred to Bertie Correctional Institution, a close and medium custody facility, from Sampson Correctional Institution in October 2015. Sampson CI is classified as a smaller, medium-and minimum-custody facility.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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