No indictment in Playstation robbery death

/ Source: The Associated Press

A grand jury Wednesday declined to indict a former sheriff's deputy in the shooting death of a teenager accused of stealing video game consoles.

State prosecutors unsuccessfully sought an indictment against Christopher Long on a charge of voluntary manslaughter in the death of 18-year-old Peyton Strickland. Grand jurors deliberated for more than an hour.

"We're very pleased and we hope this will bring closure to a very difficult and tragic set of circumstance," said Long's attorney, Mike McGuinness. "These law enforcement shootings are extremely difficult for everybody."

"This was a tragic event for everyone involved," Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a statement. "The grand jury has spoken, and we do not anticipate any further criminal proceedings by our prosecutors in this matter."

Strickland and a friend were suspected of beating a University of North Carolina at Wilmington student and robbing him of two PlayStation 3s.

Long was among the police and sheriff's deputies who raided Strickland's home in December. Campus police had asked the sheriff's department for help after viewing photos on the Internet of some of Strickland's friends posing with a shotgun, an assault rifle and handguns.

During the raid, Long thought he heard gunfire when a battering ram hit the home's door and opened fire through the door. Strickland, who had been unarmed, was struck in the head and near his right shoulder, according to an autopsy.

Long was fired a week after the shooting.

"The failure of the grand jury to indict Long on any charge compounds our family's tragedy," Strickland's family said in a statement.

New Hanover County District Attorney Ben David announced in December he had won a second-degree murder indictment against Long, but the charge was withdrawn after the grand jury foreman said he mistakenly checked the wrong box on the indictment form.

David turned the case over to the state attorney general's office.

In the robbery case, Strickland's friend Ryan Mills pleaded guilty to robbery and received a suspended jail sentence of 10 to 12 months and 3 years of probation. Another friend, accused of being the getaway driver, was given a suspended sentence of four to five months and 2 years of probation.