• 86°

Appeals court upholds guilty verdict in man’s strangling, killing of Rowan woman

SALISBURY — The N.C. Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled a Kannapolis man received a fair, error-free trial when he was convicted two years ago of killing a 53-year-old woman.

Donald Lee Frye, who is currently being held at Warren Correctional Institute, was sentenced in April 2019 to life in prison for the first-degree murder of Sheila Godfrey, who lived on Lyerly Pond Road, which is between Faith and Salisbury. He was found guilty of strangling Godfrey with a cord, beating her, leaving her lying face down in her kitchen and stealing her car, items in the vehicle and Godfrey’s debit card.

Frye also received a minimum of nine years and three months for felony breaking and entering as well as 10 years and seven months for robbery with a dangerous weapon.

His guilty verdict in Rowan County Superior Court came after a two-week jury trial. The N.C. Court of Appeals held a hearing June 9 for Frye’s appeal.

Frye argued Rowan County Superior Court committed an error by not telling the jury it sustained an objection identifying him as a person depicted in a video. Frye did not raise the issue in Superior Court, and the appeals court said the same identification evidence was presented to the jury on at least three prior occasions.

In another argument, Frye said Superior Court made a mistake by overruling his objection to admitting into evidence photographs, pornographic DVDs and personal lubricant. The appeals court contested that the evidence wouldn’t have changed the verdict.

“The evidence of defendant’s guilt was overwhelming, and the inclusion of this particular evidence, even if inadmissible, did not tilt the jury toward a guilty verdict based on the inflammatory nature of these exhibits,” the appeals court wrote in its opinion.

Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook, who tried the case before the jury, said she was pleased Godfrey received justice, noted the Court of Appeals decision was unanimous and said that fact should provide further closure for her family.

Since being booked into state prison, Frye has two infractions, both of which occurred on Nov. 9, 2019.

Comments

Local

Rowan County Chamber of Commerce’s Dragon Boat race returns after year hiatus

Local

Marker commemorating Jim Crow-era lynchings in Rowan County, racial injustice required years of work

Local

Identified Marine was a Salisbury native, served in WWII

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees COVID-19 cases coming more quickly, remains in middle tier for community spread

Cleveland

Cleveland plans to build walking trail, community barn quilt mural

High School

High school athletics: Male Athlete of the Year Walker in league of once-in-a-generation players

Business

Young entrepreneur learns lesson of responsibility by raising quail, selling eggs

Lifestyle

Historic McCanless House sold, buyers plan on converting home into events venue

Lifestyle

Library’s Summer Reading Week 10 has virtual storytime, last chance to log hours

Coronavirus

Positive COVID test knocks DeChambeau out of Olympics

College

College football: North grad Delaney ready for next challenges at Johnson C. Smith

College

Fishing: Carson grad Bauer signs with CVCC

Business

Biz Roundup: City of Salisbury brings back in-person community resource fair

Nation/World

States scale back virus reporting just as cases surge

Nation/World

Wildfires blasting through West draw states to lend support

Nation/World

French protesters reject virus passes, vaccine mandate

News

State briefs roundup

Crime

Salisbury man arrested for robbery in Cleveland

Crime

Blotter: South Carolina man arrested after attempting to purchase dog with stolen credit card

Local

Carolyn Hurley remembered as giving person

News

Stay-at-home orders cut into commercial fishermen’s catch last year

News

Two bodies found after helicopter goes down off NC coast

Nation/World

Unlikely partners: Pelosi, Cheney team up for Jan. 6 probe

Crime

Uber driver charged with sexually assaulting customer near Knightdale