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‘I’m guilty,’ Nash man tells judge after arrest in aunt’s death

Adam Owens, WRAL anchor/reporter, & Matthew Burns, WRAL.com senior producer/politics editorMay 23, 2019

A Nash County man told a judge Thursday he wanted to skip all of his court hearings and plead guilty to killing his aunt last week.

Cleavon Royster Williams, 44, of 4260 Biltmore Lane in Spring Hope, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sarah Denise Patterson.

During an initial court appearance Thursday morning, a judge was advising Williams of his right to a court-appointed attorney if he couldn’t afford a lawyer.

“I don’t want a lawyer,” Williams said, prompting the judge to advise him to seek legal counsel.

“What for? I’m guilty,” Williams replied, asking if he could waive a probable cause hearing next month and just plead guilty.

The judge, who earlier ordered news cameras not to record any audio of the court hearing, told Williams that any plea would need to be handled in another court on another day.

Patterson, 51, of Raleigh, had been missing since last Thursday after she drove off from a relative’s home in Spring Hope. When she didn’t show up for work Saturday or Sunday and her relatives couldn’t contact her, they reported her missing to the Nash County Sheriff’s Office on Monday.

Patterson’s burned-out Honda Accord was found off Pleasant Hill Road in Edgecombe County early Wednesday, Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone said.

Her body was found Wednesday afternoon about 20 miles away, in a shallow grave off West Old Spring Hope Road, south of Spring Hope, Stone said.

The location is only a couple of miles from where she was last seen.

April June Smith, 41, of the 7200 block of Shady Lane in Spring Hope, is charged with being an accessory after the fact of murder in the case. She was released from jail after posting $25,000 bond.

Smith, whom Stone said was a friend of Williams, is accused of driving Patterson’s body from where she was killed to other locations so it could be dumped, helping Williams get some cement for the deed, handling a mattress cover to conceal the body and helping dig the grave, authorities said.

Authorities haven’t said how Patterson died or revealed a possible motive for the crime.

Williams has a criminal record that dates to the early 1990s.

He served more than 15 years in prison for second-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping in a 1995 slaying in Franklin County. He also has been convicted of sexual battery, assault on a female, drug crimes and theft, according to state Department of Public Safety records.

“He is just living a nightmare,” Yvonnia Blackmon, an aunt on Williams’ father’s side, said after the court hearing.

Blackmon said Williams shot himself when he was 13 to avoid a beating by his grandfather. Three years later, she said, Williams was in prison and then spent the next 23 years behind bars.

“He has given up. He doesn’t have hope. He is lost,” she said.

Blackmon said she plans to visit Williams’ mother, who is Patterson’s sister.

“It is sad for everyone involved, it is so sad,” she said.

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