NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – A New Hanover County man has pleaded guilty in connection to the 2009 death of Corey Vann.
Larry Karl Gonzales, 53, entered a plea deal Wednesday in a New Hanover County court to voluntary manslaughter. He was sentenced to 3-5 years in prison and will get credit for time served.
In January 2009, a motorist found Vann’s body lying on the side of River Road. Deputies arrived and discovered Vann had suffered a gunshot wound to the head.
Family members said Vann left work around 11 p.m. and contacted his father saying he was tired and on his way home. Approximately 90 minutes later, he was found unresponsive on River Road.
At the time, Vann worked with Gonzales at Brunswick Cove Nursing Home in Winnabow. Vann and Gonzales also lived together in Gonzales’ home at 222 Brookview Road in Wilmington.
Records state that on the night of his death, Vann called Gonzales after his Jeep broke down while on the way home. Gonzales agreed to meet Vann at Lovitt’s Auto on Carolina Beach Road, but Vann never made it.
Vann’s Jeep was found in the driveway of Gonzales’ Brookview Road residence hours after the investigation into Vann’s death began, according to search warrants. Inside the vehicle, authorities found a scrub top with several blood stains.
Gonzales could not explain how the Jeep returned to his address.
Investigators searched Gonzales’ home in March of 2009 looking for evidence to link Gonzales to the homicide.
Three weeks before his death, Vann listed Gonzales as the beneficiary of a $20,000 life insurance policy he purchased through Brunswick Cove Nursing Home.
A search warrant filed at the clerk’s office in January 2009 stated a 12-gauge shotgun was used in Vann’s shooting.
Across the road from his body, crime scene investigators found a reducer. It can be placed inside a flare gun to discharge shotgun shells.
When Gonzales was interviewed, he said he had a flare gun stolen from his house, but noted he had not filed a report.
Gonzales was eventually indicted by a grand jury on first-degree murder charges in 2014. He was arrested in Houston, Texas and extradited back to North Carolina.