Catawba Co. man gets life sentence for murder

by: Mark Becker Updated:

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CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. - A Catawba County man will spend the rest of his life in prison after he pleaded guilty to breaking into his ex-girlfriend’s house, kidnapping and killing her in August 2013.

Aaron Compton sat across the courtroom from the family and friends of Tabitha Heavener eight months after the prosecutor said he had broken into Heavener’s home in Newton and attacked her because she had broken off their relationship.

“You could hear Ms. Heavener screaming,” the prosecutor said as he described the 911 call she made early on the morning of Aug. 14.

By the time deputies got to her home, Compton had tied her up and taken her in a car towards Gastonia, where she jumped out to escape and was hit by a passing truck.

“Our holidays will never be the same.  We have no mother to call this Mother's Day,” said Chastity Garcia, one of Heavener’s three children.

The rest of Heavener’s family sat on the front row of the courtroom and Compton later turned to them and offered a tearful apology.

“I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt Tabitha at all. I didn't go there for that. That's not what I went there for. I just want you all to know that.  I'm so sorry you even have to be without her,” Compton said.

As he left the courthouse, Heavener’s stepfather said her death should be a warning to others in relationships where love has turned to selfishness and domestic violence.

“Get out, get out now,” Dan Miller said. “We trusted him. When a lot of others didn't, but it was all about him"

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