GREENSBORO — A man faces probation after pleading guilty to fatally stabbing a close friend on Christmas Eve 2016.
Ryan Edward Shealy, 32, of 5606 Old Fox Trail in Greensboro, pleaded guilty Thursday to voluntary manslaughter in the death of Christopher Keith Daly on Dec. 24, 2016.
His plea deal with the state meant serving between five to seven years in prison, but Superior Court Judge Anderson Cromer said he found “extraordinary” circumstances and lessened Shealy’s sentence to 18 months in prison followed by five years of probation.
“He found that Mr. Shealy was provoked,” said Howard Neumann, Guilford County’s chief assistant district attorney. “We’re not disagreeing with those findings at all.”
Shealy and Daly, who Neumann characterized as close friends, got into a fight at a party Shealy was hosting at his parent’s house on Christmas Eve. Shealy had a number of friends over, all of whom had been heavily drinking.
According to Neumann, something inappropriate was said to Shealy’s girlfriend when the group was in the kitchen. The remark led to an argument between Shealy and Daly that turned physical.
“In the course of that, Shealy picks up a kitchen knife and stabs Daly once in the abdomen,” Neumann said. “It’s fatal.”
Shealy told investigators he grabbed the knife to defend himself after Daly put him in a headlock and choked him. “There was nothing to support that other than Shealy’s statement,” Neumann said. “Daly had bruises. Shealy did not.”
Neumann said the group moved Daly’s body to the garage and tried to clean up the kitchen before police arrived. “Shealy was charged with voluntary manslaughter for fighting using excessive force,” Neumann said. “Basically, he brought a knife to a fistfight.”
Shealy’s plea deal came on the fourth day of his trial.
“Daly’s mother was there for the entire trial and she indicated that she was satisfied with the resolution,” Neumann said. “The two men knew each other and she didn’t want to see Mr. Shealy’s life ruined like her son’s was, but she wanted him to be held accountable.”