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Two pleas end cases in businessman’s arson murder

Douglas Deshawn Thomas, left, and Mitchell Douglas Cheatham


     Guilty pleas from two men Thursday end prosecutions against three in the brutal 2014 of an Aynor man, the case with ties to Tabor City, Columbus and Bladen counties.

     Mitchell Douglas Cheatham, 23 of Council, entered a guilty plea to murderin the April 29, 2014 arson murder of Aynor area businessman Charles Bryant “CB” Smith, a news release from 15th Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said.

     Douglas Deshawn Thomas, 25, who listed a Whiteville address at the time of his arrest, pleaded guilty to burglary.

     Cheatham was ordered to serve 30 years in prison, Thomas 20 years, Circuit Court Judge Steven H. John handing down the sentences.

     Tommy Lee Benton, 24, of Chadbourn was convicted last December of first degree murder, two counts of arson and two counts of burglary in Smith’s death, and was handed three life sentences.

     Cheatham and Thomas testified in Benton’s trial, Senior Assistant Solicitor Lauree Richardson said.

     Benton, Cheatham and Thomas were convicted of armed robbery at the Tabor City McDonald’s in the early morning of April 28, 2014, the morning before Smith’s murder, serving about 18 months in a North Carolina prison for that crime.

     For more on this story see the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.