A deliberate, premeditated murderer or a mentally troubled young man with a difficult childhood?

Which story a judge is influenced by could mean the difference between life and death for a man convicted of murder in Roanoke County.

The sentencing for Shane Padgett continued Wednesday.

The prosecution rested its case Wednesday, but not before we heard from several of the women Shane Padgett asked to hang out with him back in 2010. They said no. But Cara Holley said yes, and ended up dead.

We also heard from a friend of Padgett's who did drugs with him the night before Holley's murder in the same Franklin County field where he dumped her body.

"He said, ‘You could kill someone here and nobody would hear them scream," Aaron Parker said.

Following friends and the women who were convinced they could have been the victim, the medical examiner gave a detailed report on the condition of Cara Holley's body.

We heard from the defense's first witness Wednesday. Bonnie Haines is Shane Padgett's mother.

After showing family pictures and home movies, she described Padgett's childhood; wrought with abandonment, his father's suicide and admission into a mental health facility. Bonnie Haines also described her son's behavior in the days leading up to Cara Holley's murder.

"He was hearing voices in his head," Haines said. "It was like he was there, but not there."

Prosecutors quickly responded by saying that Padgett was smoking marijuana in the days leading up to killing Holley, and that he had been communicating with other people. Haines said she was shocked when police knocked on her door.

"All I remember asking is if they were sure it was him," Haines said.

Padgett's grandmother and aunt also testified about his troubled childhood, both telling the story of Padgett's fascination with a school resource officer's gun.

"He told the D.A.R.E. officer that he wanted to blow his brains out like his daddy ," said Jennifer Padgett Smith, Shane’s aunt.

The defense is trying to illustrate that Padgett was mentally unstable at the time he killed Cara Holley, which is why they're really delving into his childhood and will continue to do so as this sentencing phase wears on. That could lead to a life sentence instead of the death penalty.

The case is scheduled to continue into next week.


The prosecution rested Wednesday in the sentencing hearing for a man facing the death penalty in Roanoke County.

Shane Padgett pleaded guilty last year to raping and killing Cara Holley in July 2010. Police found Holley's body in Franklin County.

Wednesday in court the prosecution called on several women who Padgett reached out to on the day of Holley’s murder. The prosecution contends that Padgett would have killed anyone, and it was just a matter of who agreed to hang out with him. The women said the offer from Padgett to hang out was out of the blue. Padgett offered some of the women money to hang out.

The court also heard a very detailed autopsy report. The medical examiner determined that Padgett beat Holley in the head with a tire iron and sexually assaulted her.

The defense will begin calling its witnesses – including Padgett’s family -- Wednesday afternoon. The defense will try to show that Padgett is mentally troubled and disturbed.

Tune in tonight for more.