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On February 27, 2020 Derek Pendergraft, 22, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his co-worker Sara Ellis in Asheville, NC. U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger presided over the sentencing hearing.

On July 24, 2018, Pendergraft, who worked at the Pisgah Inn, murdered Sara during the perpetration of aggravated sexual abuse. The murder occurred on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

And then on August 26, 2019, Pendergraft pleaded guilty to first degree murder and two counts of aggravated sexual abuse resulting in death. He is currently in federal custody and will be transferred to the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.

All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.

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