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Mansfield indicted in wife's death

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Frank Mansfield

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Less than two months after one Pasquotank grand jury declined to indict him for first-degree murder in his wife’s shooting death, a second grand jury has indicted Frank Mansfield on a charge of second-degree murder.

Mansfield, 72, of 100 Golf Club Drive, was served the indictment Thursday charging him with killing Phyllis Mansfield, 73, in the garage of the couple’s home the morning of Dec. 14, Pasquotank Superior Court records show. Mansfield was released after posting bonds totaling $250,000, Elizabeth City police spokesman Sgt. Jamie Judge said.

No trial date has been set in the case.

According to court records, Mansfield told police his wife was suffering from dementia, and, because of her condition he had been discussing with several agencies, including the Pasquotank Department of Social Services, the possibility of placing her in an assisted living facility.

Mansfield told police because he didn’t want his wife having to live “like a caged animal” in an assisted living home, he shot her in the garage of their home the morning of Dec. 14. Phyllis Mansfield's death certificate, filed with the Pasquotank Register of Deeds Office, indicates she died from gunshot wounds to her head and chest.

The grand jury’s decision this week was much different from the decision of the grand jury that met on Jan. 17. The first panel declined to indict Mansfield on a charge of first-degree murder brought by prosecutors. Mansfield, who had been held in jail without bond since his arrest, was subsequently released.

Grand jury proceedings are considered secret in North Carolina, so there's no official explanation why the panel that met in January decided against indicting Mansfield for first-degree murder.

Although second-degree murder is considered intentionally killing someone with reckless disregard for their life, it is different from first-degree murder because it’s not carried out with prior thought or planning. Most significantly, someone convicted of second-degree murder also can’t be subject to the death penalty, while those convicted of first-degree murder can be. The maximum sentence for second-degree murder is life in prison.

According to court documents, Mansfield’s attorney, H.P. Williams Jr. of Elizabeth City, asked the court on Jan. 17 to set a reasonable bond for his client, citing Mansfield’s absence of a prior criminal record and long work history and family ties.

Williams told the court that Mansfield had operated Frank's Auto Parts for approximately 20 years before going to work for the company that bought the business from him. At the time of his arrest, Mansfield was working for Beamon and Johnson, the auto parts business’ current owner.

Williams also told the court that Mansfield's two daughters would be willing to live with him if he were released.

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