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Death penalty sought for Clontz, Steele

By Shavonne Potts

Salisbury Post

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty in a case against a Landis woman and a Biscoe man who were charged three months ago in the beating death of a Kannapolis nightclub owner.

Mandy Latasha Clontz, 24, and Nicholas Jermaine Steele, her boyfriend, are charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jeffery Allen Wills, 37.

During a hearing Monday, Rowan District Attorney Bill Kenerly told Superior Court Judge John L. Holshouser Jr. that the case was a capital one, which was determined at a previous hearing.

Capital offenses are punishable by death.

A third man is charged with helping the two hide the body. Travis Lee Chriscoe, 28, of Seagrove, is charged with accessory after the fact.

The initial discovery phase of the case has already taken place. During that phase, prosecutors compile and log all the evidence that’s been gathered.

A hearing is slated Feb. 5 because Steele’s attorneys, Cabarrus County’s Jay White and Randolph County’s Frank Wells, have a scheduling conflict.

Since Steele, Clontz and Chriscoe are co-defendants, they all must return for the February hearing.

In August, Wills’ mother reported him missing. His car was discovered a week after he disappeared.

According to a statement by Clontz, who was arrested Sept. 8 in Montgomery County, Steele assaulted and killed Wills with a hammer at Clontz’s home in Landis.

Clontz told authorities that she, Steele and Chriscoe took the body to an abandoned house in Montgomery County a few days after Wills was reported missing.

Clontz said she disposed of the hammer and Wills’ shoes and clothing a few weeks after he was killed.

In his account to authorities, Steele said Clontz assaulted Wills.

Chriscoe maintains that he let Steele borrow his pickup and Steele returned it three days later.

According to investigators, money was the apparent motive for the murder.

Clontz is represented by Charlotte Attorney Mann VonKallist and Durham Attorney Robert Trenkle.

Chriscoe is represented by Salisbury Attorney Carlyle Sherrill.

Contact Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253 or spotts@salisburypost.com.

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