Jurors Hear About Holden’s Home Life in Death Penalty Case

Nathan Holden, left, is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of his in-laws in April 2014.

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— A Wake County jury found Nathan Holden guilty of first-degree murder Monday morning in the April 2014 death of his former in-laws, and now they must decide if he will spend the rest of his life behind bars or be sentenced to death.

Holden, 32, shot and killed his ex-wife’s parents, Angelia Smith Taylor and Sylvester Taylor, and shot and pistol-whipped his ex-wife, LaTonya Allen, at their home in Wendell on April 9, 2014.

LaTonya Allen’s three children with Holden, a 15-year-old boy and two 8-year-old girls, were in the home at the time, but they were unharmed.

During opening statements in the sentencing phase of the trial, Assistant District Attorney Matt Lively said Holden’s violence extended long after the murders.

Investigators located Holden about 10 miles away from the shooting scene – and used a K-9 unit to track him to a nearby field. According to investigators, Holden opened fire on the K-9 handler and other deputies before he was taken into custody.

“The defendant’s violence was not confined to Lake Glad Road that night. It extended to Holden Acres where he was living at the time when these crimes were committed,” Lively said. “In the woods, in the dark of night, in the early morning hours of April 10.”

Defense attorney Jonathon Broun said Holden was raised in a culture of violence. He argued Holden had a tumultuous childhood and grew up in a home where his father beat his mother repeatedly.

“You will hear direct evidence of what it is like in a home where these beatings were a regular part of life,” Broun said. “Nate was upset that his father was beating up his mother.”

Broun said Holden was powerless to stop his father, and that he initially wanted to prove that he could be a good father to his children, unlike his dad.

Holden was also found guilty of attempted first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury in the beating of his ex-wife.

A Wake County jury has not handed down a death sentence since 2007. A decision to sentence a person to death requires a unanimous decision by all 12 jurors.

Testimony will continue Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.

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