Wilmington man pleads to robbery, assault in 2014 shooting death; murder charge dismissed

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Zeer Nafis Cannady

A Wilmington man has pleaded guilty to robbery with a dangerous weapon and assault in connection with a 2014 fatal shooting, while multiple charges against him–including first-degree murder–were dismissed.

Zeer Nafis Cannady, 21, pleaded guilty on April 29 to five counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and possession of a firearm by a felon, according to court records. The State dismissed charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon.

New Hanover County Superior Court Judge Ben Alford sentenced Cannady to 105 to 151 months in in the N.C. Department of Corrections. He was given credit for 317 days served in jail.

Cannady was arrested in connection with a home invasion reported in the 1600 block of South 13th Street on June 13, 2014. According to a Wilmington Police Department spokeswoman, witnesses told police three black men entered the residence when shots were fired.

Aaron McGhee, 47, was shot during the home invasion and taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. A second victim was shot in the leg during the incident but was reportedly in stable condition.

A second suspect was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the case in 2014. But the charges were dismissed days after the suspect’s arrest when new information prompted Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous to ask the District Attorney’s office to drop the charges against the man.

“These charges were later dismissed when it was determined that he was misidentified by the witness,” according to a news release from District Attorney Ben David. “Two of the robbery victims refused to cooperate with law enforcement and identify the suspects in this case.”

Assistant District Attorney Barrett Temple was the prosecutor in the case. Chief Public Defender Jennifer Harjo represented Cannady.

“This plea was negotiated and accepted with the support of Mr. McGhee’s family and the cooperating victims in the case,” David said.

Christina Haley is a crime and courts reporter at Port City Daily. Reach her at (910) 772-6337 or christina.h@portcitydaily.com.