New Bern man pleads guilty to shooting death of grandparents, is sentenced

Crime Tracker

Michael Tanner Norris (Craven County Sheriff’s Office photo)

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — A New Bern man charged in the 2020 shooting death of his grandparents has pled guilty and was sentenced on Friday.

District Attorney Scott Thomas and Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes announced that Michael Tanner Norris, 31, pled guilty to first-degree murder charges in the death of Andrew and Sandra Hoyle. Both were found dead inside their home at 551 Dragstrip Road in New Bern with gunshot wounds on July 8, 2020. Norris became the immediate suspect and was later found in Beaufort County and arrested.

Norris had been living with his grandparents while detoxing from heroin, officials learned. During his interview, the defendant stated the last time he used illegal drugs was on July 2, 2020, six days prior to killing his grandparents, and that the reason he killed his grandparents was because he was “fiending” or craving illegal drugs.

Norris was sentenced to consecutive back-to-back life sentences without the possibility of parole. He was also facing a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in Craven County Superior Court. The cases were prosecuted by District Attorney Scott Thomas, Assistant District Attorney Matt Wareham, and Victim/Witness Legal Assistant Beverly Lynch. Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson sentenced the defendant.

“This case is proof once again that illegal drug use is not a victimless crime,” Thomas said. “These crimes were committed by the defendant as he attempted to steal items from the home to sell or trade for illegal drugs.

“This defendant’s family helped him in every way and exhausted every effort to get him help and treatment. Though not impaired on drugs at the time of these crimes, these crimes occurred and were committed because this defendant wanted and intended to get drugs. This is a true family tragedy. A very good person has lost both of her parents, and her son will spend the rest of his life in prison.

“Our prayers remain with the family. I commend Sheriff Hughes and his Deputies on their investigation, and for locating and apprehending this defendant within hours of the commission of these crimes.”

Hughes also expressed thanks to Thomas for his part in the case.

“We thank District Attorney Scott Thomas and his Office for working with the victim’s family and the Sheriff’s Office to resolve this case,” Hughes said. “This family has suffered a terrible tragedy and they remain in our thoughts and prayers.”

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