Man pleads guilty to killing Catawba County school counselor

- A man has pleaded guilty to killing a school guidance counselor in Catawba County more than two years ago.

Sharman Odom, 37, pleaded guilty in Newton on Thursday in the death of 31-year-old Margaret Elizabeth Daniels.

Odom accepted a deal offered several months ago where he would plead guilty and serve life in prison without parole and prosecutors would agree not to seek a death sentence.

Odom apologized in court to Daniels' family, saying he hoped the life sentence is the justice they want.

“My heart goes out to the Daniels family … Hopefully, this is justice today,” Odom said.

Daniels’ brother Chris made a statement on behalf of the family following proceedings in the courtroom.

“Although our family will never have peace, we are happy to have some closure and know that justice was served for Maggie,” Chris Daniels said. “No outcome can bring her back or make right what was stolen from our family. We will hold close the memories that we have and cherish them.

Odom sexually assaulted and killed Daniels, a school teacher in Newton, in her apartment on June 27, 2014. Daniels’ body was found in her apartment on June 28, and Odom was arrested and charged in connection with her death on Aug. 2, 2014. Odom was charged with first-degree murder, first-degree sexual offense and first-degree kidnapping. Daniels and Odom lived at the same apartment complex.

Assistant District Attorney Smith provided a factual basis of the crime, noting that a neighborhood canvass of the area around Daniels’ apartment helped develop Odom as a suspect. Hair samples from the defendant found at the crime scene, along with fingernail scrapings from Daniels and DNA matches to Odom confirmed him as the person responsible for her death.

The autopsy report from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center revealed that Daniels suffered from blunt force trauma to the head, chest and abdomen along with other injuries, but strangulation was her cause of death, according to the district attorney general.

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