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Defendant found guilty in double-homicide trial; sentenced to at least 25 years
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CATAWBA COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT

Defendant found guilty in double-homicide trial; sentenced to at least 25 years

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Defendant Daniel Jeremiah Minton looks toward his mother and other family members after being sentenced in the shooting deaths of Janarion Knox and Branique McKnight on Thursday in Catawba County Superior Court.

Daniel Minton, 22, of Lenoir was found guilty on two charges Thursday afternoon in connection with two shooting deaths from nearly four years ago.

After nearly 11 hours of jury deliberation, Minton was found guilty of second-degree murder for the shooting of Janarion Knox, 20, of Hickory. He was also found guilty of voluntary manslaughter for the shooting of Branique McKnight, 18, of Conover. Both were killed at Ridgecrest Apartments in Hickory during what was characterized in court as a drug deal on Aug. 31, 2017.

“I so wish we weren’t here today,” Judge Gregory Horne told the court before sentencing Minton.

Minton was sentenced to a minimum 304 months, just over 25 years, in prison.

Minton did not say anything to the court after he was sentenced.

McKnight’s sister, Aliyah McKnight, spoke to the court Thursday afternoon. She said she wanted everyone to know Branique McKnight wasn’t just a man selling drugs. “He was a father, a brother,” she said. “He had a heart of gold.”

Knox’s father, Carlos Walker, said he is satisfied with the verdict. “I got some closure.”

Walker thanked the prosecutor Brittany Pinkham for taking on the case and working closely with the families. “They did the best that they could,” he said.

Zaria Wray, McKnight’s ex-girlfriend, smiled after hearing the verdict. She said she was happy the trial was finally over.

Minton’s mother Sandra Minton declined to comment.

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