Relatives seeking to spare Wake man’s life say double murder out of character
Jurors who will decide whether convicted double-murderer Nathan Holden receives the death penalty heard emotional testimony Wednesday morning from several of Holden’s family members, including his mother, sister and aunt.
A jury convicted Holden of first-degree murder Monday morning in the April 2014 deaths of his former in-laws, and now the jurors must decide if he will spend the rest of his life behind bars or be sentenced to death.
Holden, 32, shot and pistol-whipped his ex-wife, LaTonya Allen, and shot and killed her parents, Angelia Smith Taylor and Sylvester Taylor, at their home in Wendell on April 9, 2014.
Holden’s sister, Katina Rainey, said she and Holden often heard and saw physical abuse between their parents as they grew up.
Defense attorney Jonathon Broun said Tuesday that Holden was raised in a culture of violence, including a tumultuous childhood where his father beat his mother repeatedly.
Rainey said Holden would often comfort her during arguments between their parents.
“He was a big brother. He’s the one who taught me how to ride my bike. He’s the one who taught me how to tie my shoes,” Rainey said.
Holden’s mother, Antoinette Holden, admitted to using crack cocaine and drinking throughout his childhood. She also admitted to being involved in physical altercations with Holden’s father on numerous occasions.
Despite Holden’s childhood struggles, his mother, sister and aunt all said his actions on April 2014 were out of character. They described him as a great father and a great person.
“He doesn’t even raise his voice or get his hands dirty,” Rainey said when asked if the events reflected the “Nate she knew.”
Psychologist Dr. John Blackshear took the stand in the afternoon. He testified that all of these factors led Holden to bottle up his emotions and not cope with them properly. He diagnosed Holden with post-traumatic stress disorder.
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 of the murders, but they were unharmed.
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.
A Wake County jury has not handed down a death sentence since 2007. A decision to sentence a person to death must be unanimous by all 12 jurors.