Gordon Franklin McMullen, who has spent much of his life in prison, now faces possible execution.
Mecklenburg Assistant District Attorney Marsha Goodenow announced in court Thursday that prosecutors would seek the death penalty against McMullen, who's accused of robbing and fatally stabbing a 92-year-old woman as she returned home from church in April.
Mecklenburg prosecutors seldom seek the death penalty. The last person sentenced to death in the county was Jonathan Earl Leeper in 2000.
During Thursday's hearing, Goodenow told Superior Court Judge Bob Bell there is more than one aggravating factor in the killing of Mildred Clontz. She didn't disclose those aggravating factors, which prosecutors believe justify the death penalty.
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McMullen committed a string of robberies in the 1980s. Despite requests from the Observer, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police haven't provided reports that detail the facts surrounding those robberies and the victims.
McMullen, 47, has served 20 years in prisons in North Carolina. His criminal history began as a juvenile and escalated from stealing a credit card to forging signatures to committing armed robberies, said Keith Acree, a spokesman for the N.C. Department of Correction.
Clontz, a widow, lived alone in her one-story brick house on Knickerbocker Drive. She recounted the April 6 attack on her to police and relatives before dying of her injuries.
She told them she had just come home from Midwood Baptist Church, where she was treasurer of her Sunday school class. After she unlocked two deadbolts and pushed open her front door, her killer shoved her inside. He stabbed her in the neck, torso and back, relatives said. He left after stealing her brown purse, credit cards and driver's license.
Clontz told her family that she then reached for the phone on the wall and called 911. She died the next day.