Napoleon Nicholson, 41, of Warrenton on Sept. 11 entered an Alford plea in Warren County Superior Court to second-degree murder in connection with the November 2017 death of Thomas Rainey.

The Alford plea is defined as a plea in which the criminal defendant does not admit the act, but admits that the prosecution could likely prove the charge. The court then pronounces the defendant guilty. An Alford plea allows the defendant to plead guilty yet not admit all the facts that comprise the crime.

Nicholson originally was charged with first-degree murder in connection with Rainey’s death.

According to court documents, Warren County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to a disturbance at Rainey’s Tunstall Road, Warrenton, address. When the call came in, a man said that a Napoleon Nicholson would not leave his residence, and the dispatcher heard the caller tell what sounded like another man to “get back.”

When deputies arrived at the scene, court documents indicate, they found Rainey lying in the yard with injuries to his neck and face, including a large wound to his forehead. He was transported by Warren County Emergency Medical Services to Maria Parham Health in Henderson and transferred by medical helicopter to Duke Hospital in Durham, where he later died.

Criminal Investigator J. Horne of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office reported that several days before Rainey’s death, Nicholson confessed to assaulting him.

In 2018, prosecutors announced that they would not seek the death penalty against Nicholson.

As a result of last week’s plea, Judge Alma L. Hinton sentenced Nicholson to 20-25 years in the Department of Adult Correction. The attorney fee will be a civil judgment.