Accused killer Nick Hunsucker may get plea deal

Teenager accused of beating his mother to death in 2011
Jul. 16, 2013 @ 08:47 AM

A plea deal is in the works for Austin Nicholas "Nick" Hunsucker, who is accused of beating his own mother to death, his lawyer said in court Monday.

Hunsucker's court-appointed attorney, Herb Pearce, told Judge Timothy Kincaid of Caldwell Superior Court that he and Assistant District Attorney David Swanson were negotiating a plea but were 18 months apart on how long a sentence to recommend. Hunsucker is charged with first-degree murder, which because of Hunsucker's age carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. The case was continued until July 29, when it is hoped a deal can be struck and a plea entered.

Hunsucker was arrested on the night of Dec. 18, 2011, at the apartment on Mayfield Drive near GraniteFalls that he shared with his mother, 54-year old Kathy Eller. The Caldwell County Sheriff's Office says Hunsucker, then 17, viciously beat Eller at home. Eller was flown to Carolinas Medical Center, where she died four days later from severe head injuries.

Court records state Eller was beaten with a glass cross, a golf club and a pot lid. An autopsy, conducted by the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s Office, revealed four large cuts to her head with underlying skull fractures. Measurements and pattern-matching of the skull fractures were consistent with the golf club recovered at the scene, the autopsy report said.

Pearce believes Hunsucker, who attended South Caldwell High School, has a diminished mental capacity.

Hunsucker was initially charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury, and was jailed on a $250,000 secured bond. The following week, a grand jury indicted Hunsucker for murder, and his bond was revoked.

Hunsucker faces a sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted of murder. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty because of his age.