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Leland man gets probation in baseball bat beating death

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By Sam Hickman

 A Leland man was sentenced to three years of supervised probation after pleading guilty to a lesser charge in the New Year’s Day beating death of a Whiteville man.

Boyd Franklin Harrelson, 44, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter Nov. 13 in Brunswick County Superior Court in the death of Hartford Talmadge Sellers III. Second-degree murder, assault inflicting serious injury and felony assault with a deadly weapon charges were dismissed against Harrelson in exchange for his plea.

Judge Ebern T. Watson III sentenced Harrelson to the probation in lieu of 21 to 35 months in prison. Harrelson was given credit for 235 days in jail.

Sellers, 26, died Jan. 4 as a result of injuries he suffered during the Jan. 1 beating at 6524 Farm Meadows Road in Leland, according to Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office reports.

Harrelson confronted the driver of a truck at 5 p.m. that say about driving fast on Farm Meadows Drive, where Harrelson lived. The truck returned about 10:30 p.m. and Sellers was among a group of men that confronted Harrelson.

By the time deputies arrived, Sellers was unconscious in a yard and Harrelson was bleeding from his head. Investigators said Sellers had been beaten with a baseball bat.

Deputies arrested Harrelson on Jan. 3 and charged him with assault with a deadly weapon with serious injury and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury.

Harrelson was charged with second-degree murder Jan. 7 after Sellers died at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington.

Harrelson and his 16-year-old son, Ryan Harrelson, were among four men originally charged in Sellers’ death.

The second-degree murder charge against Ryan Harrelson, who was arrested Jan. 17, was dismissed, according to the Brunswick County District Attorney’s Office.

The Harrelsons’ neighbor William Connolly, 54, was arrested Jan. 4 and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. He also was charged with failure to appear on a misdemeanor in an unrelated case. The assault charge against him was later dropped, according to the Brunswick County District Attorney’s Office.

Nickolas Wayne Smith, 21, a family friend of the Harrelsons, was arrested Jan. 3 and charged with assault with a deadly weapon. That charge also was later dismissed, according to the Brunswick County District Attorney’s Office.

 

Sam Hickman is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or shickman@brunswickbeacon.com.