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Woman accused in North Carolina robbery has troubled past

A 20-year-old woman who suffered a traumatic childhood that included homelessness and a drug-addicted mother is expected to plead guilty to robbing a North Carolina pawnshop and killing its clerk. She and her alleged accomplice are facing charges of first-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon and second-degree kidnapping.

Investigators say the pair drove from Georgia to Fayetteville, North Carolina, in a stolen SUV that broke down near the pawnshop. The owner of the SUV was later found shot to death. According to tapes of the 911 calls, the two robbed the pawnshop and fatally shot one of the clerks just after 5 p.m. as two others escaped. They're accused of leaving the scene in the slain clerk's car.

Police say the robbery and shooting were random and that the couple likely chose to rob the pawnshop because it was in the area where the SUV broke down. Surveillance video showed the pair walking in and out of the shop several times before the robbery, and police say the woman had the couple's 9-month-old baby with her.

People who know the female suspect say she grew up in a hurry. After she was arrested at age 15 on charges of sexual solicitation and possession of crack cocaine, she allegedly used an alias to stay out of juvenile detention. She was eventually committed to Washington, D.C.'s Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services. But she walked away from the facility last year as she was mourning the death of her mother, who was addicted to drugs. Not helping matters, sources at the detention center say, was the fact that the young woman had only two people in her life: her mother and her boyfriend, the alleged accomplice. Given the fact that both of her loved ones were drug abusers, she didn't have much of a shot at a normal, crime-free life. "Damaged young people turn into damaged adults," the source said.

After the couple was arrested, the man urged police to let his girlfriend go and said had nothing to do with the crimes. Her role hasn't been made clear, but to avoid the most serious criminal charges she'll have to testify against her partner. Considering he's the only person left in her life that she trusts, she'll benefit most from an attorney who can act as a true advocate and help her avoid a harsher penalty than she deserves.

Source: The Washington Times, "Ex-DYRS ward to plead guilty in N.C. murder case," Jeffery Anderson, April 9, 2012

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