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Assistant Mecklenburg DA breaks neck hang-gliding

Bill Bunting got the verdict he wanted, even if he wasn’t in the courtroom to see it.

The assistant Mecklenburg County district attorney broke his neck during a hang-gliding accident over the Memorial Day weekend.

His injuries occurred during a break in the Ellis Royster murder trial, in which Bunting was the co-prosecutor. Bunting gave the state’s opening argument against Royster, who was accused of first-degree murder in the 2010 shooting death of a 2-year-old Charlotte boy. Bunting also split time with colleague Jay Ashendorf in questioning witnesses.

Bunting was hang-gliding at Big Walker Mountain, Va., about 2 1/2 hours north of Charlotte, when a gust of wind sent him back toward the mountain. He slammed into a tree, and fell 50 feet through the branches. A spokeswoman from the District Attorney’s Office said Bunting will wear a neck brace for a few months but doesn’t expect to need surgery.

Reached by phone Thursday, Bunting said he was feeling OK, but otherwise declined to talk about the accident.

His chair was noticeably empty Tuesday morning when the Royster trial resumed after the holiday break.

Superior Court Judge Robert Bell told the jury that Bunting had suffered some sports-related injuries and wouldn’t be back.

Ashendorf handled the case from there. Luckily, it was he and not Bunting who was scheduled to give the closing argument, Ashendorf said.

On Wednesday, and after less than two hours of deliberations, the jury convicted Royster. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

Bunting, after resting a few days at his parents’ home near Raleigh, was expected back at work Friday.

Gordon: 704-358-5095
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