Murder charge dropped after deadly fight in Hickory parking lot

HICKORY, N.C. — A man from Conover who was charged with murder last week is no longer facing charges.

Investigators had said two men got into a fight in the parking lot of LR Plaza on Lenoir Rhyne Boulevard in Hickory. Hickory police said one of them was stabbed in the process.

The victim, 37-year-old Cory Andrew Hartness, was found inside of New Season Hickory Metro Treatment Center. He had been stabbed multiple times, authorities said. He was taken to the hospital where he later died.

Allen Anthony Little, 29, was initially charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill or inflict serious injury, and his charges were upgraded to murder after Hartness’ death.

But on Tuesday, Little walked out of jail a free man. According to court documents and witness statements, prosecutors now believe it was a case of self-defense.

One witness told Channel 9 that Hartness was the aggressor in the case, attacking Little with a knife.

“He was attacked, period,” the witness told Channel 9′s Dave Faherty.

“He clearly looked at North Carolina defense law,” said defense attorney Vicki Jayne. “This man was not the aggressor. He was attacked. He took the knife away. He had a right to stand his ground and defend himself. That is just what happened.”

Jayne says Little was initially charged after he refused to give a statement to police on the day of the stabbing.

“When he chose to exercise his fifth amendment right to silence … that certainly should not have been used against him,” Jayne said.

It’s not clear why Hartness attacked Little.

VIDEO: Group uses stolen truck, chain to break into ATM in Hickory