Guilty Verdict in Anchorwoman’s Rape, Fatal Beating

Little Rock, AK—The trial of a man accused of beating a television anchorwoman to death has ended with a conviction.

Curtis Lavelle Vance, 29, was also convicted of residential burglary, rape and theft of property. The attack took place on October 20, 2008, when Vance, who was looking for laptop computers to steal, entered Pressly’s home by means of a doggie door. He raped Pressly, then beat her savagely with a wooden-handled garden tool when she attempted to fight back. Pressly’s left hand was broken, her face crushed beyond recognition, and her hair matted with blood. During the trial, a medical examiner testified that Pressly’s face was broken “like an egg,” and some people in the courtroom broke into tears at the graphic testimony of the anchorwoman’s condition. Pressly, 26, never regained consciousness and died five days after the attack.

Pressly was discovered by her mother, Patti Cannady, after she failed to respond to a wake-up telephone call that Cannady was accustomed to making at 3 a.m.. Pressly, the anchor of KATV’s “Daybreak” program, was also an actress who had played a small role in the President Bush biopic “W.”

According to prosecutors, DNA evidence linked Vance not only to the attack on Pressly but also to another rape, that of a schoolteacher in Marianna, AK, a town about 100 miles from Little Rock. Vance has pleaded not guilty in that case, and his lawyers say that police fooled Vance into giving false confessions. Yet he also went willingly with police to the Marianna police station in order to give a DNA sample. During questioning, Vance reportedly was friendly and cooperative, but also gave a number of conflicting and even contradictory statements and explanations of the attack. At one point he claimed that two other men had committed Pressly’s beating while Vance was outside moving his car; another time he described how she held up her arm to deflect the blows from the garden tool, and then talked about how he threw the tool out of his car window and into the Arkansas river.

Documents obtained from the Department of Human Services in Arkansas showed that Vance had had a troubled youth; his mother, a crack addict, had left her children with their grandmother and lived in a homeless shelter.

The jury is expected to decide today whether Vance will face the death penalty for his crime, or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

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