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Second man convicted in Kannapolis man's death

By Sara Gregory
Salisbury Post
The son of a man convicted of a 2004 homicide was sentenced Tuesday for his role in a Kannapolis man’s death.
Cedric Hawkins, 23, will spend a minimum of 125 months in prison for his involvement in the stabbing death of Kevin Mark Ritchie, a friend of Hawkins’ father, John Rankin.
Hawkins accepted a plea agreement in Rowan County Superior Court on Tuesday and was sentenced on a charge of second-degree murder. Rankin was convicted of robbery and first-degree murder in 2006.
Ritchie’s fiancee, Meloney McCorkle, found him in his home in 2004 with multiple stab wounds, including a fatal one to his chest. Three rifles had been stolen.
Rankin and Ritchie were high school friends who often hunted together.
Hawkins’ attorney, Darrin Jordan, said Tuesday that Hawkins was a “very passive participant” in the murder and that he was influenced by his father.
“He was a very naive, innocent 18-year-old,” Jordan said.
Charles Ritchie, Mark Ritchie’s father, told Superior Court Judge Stuart Albright on Tuesday that Hawkins was old enough that he could have chosen not to participate.
“He had a chance while he was sitting in the car,” Charles Ritchie said. “He chose to stay where the murder was taking place.
“He’s as guilty as his daddy whether he did it or not.”
Ritchie’s mother, Elaine Howle, said tearfully that no sentence Hawkins could receive would bring her son back.
“My son was a good boy,” Howle said. “Y’all took everything I had away from me. He’s my only child.”
After the sentencing, Howle asked to see the crime scene photographs of her son’s body as it was found.
She’ll get a chance to look at them later this week, she said, and hopes it will help give her some closure.
Hawkins was charged with Ritchie’s murder but the charges were dropped and he was given immunity in 2005 when he agreed to testify.
But Hawkins refused to testify against his father at Rankin’s trial and was held in contempt of court. The charges against Hawkins were re-filed then.
Hawkins has been in the Rowan County Detention Center since September 2007. He accepted an alford plea Tuesday, one where the individual charged does not admit guilt but acknowledges sufficient evidence that could convince a jury of guilt.
As sheriff’s deputies led Hawkins out of the courtroom, he paused to offer a small wave to his family. He will get credit for about 15 months already served.
Contact Sara Gregory at 704-797-4257 or sgregory@salisburypost.com.

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