ELIZABETHTOWN — An Orrum man pleaded guilty on Monday in Bladen County Superior Court to involuntary manslaughter in the 2002 poisoning death of his wife.
James Cain, a former Bladen County pastor, will serve three years of supervised probation, according to a statement from the Bladen County District Attorney’s Office. He received a suspended sentence of 16 to 20 months in jail with credit for 57 days that he spent behind bars following his arrest in 2009.
Sixty-year-old Norma Cain died on March 26, 2002, after taking a lethal dose of the narcotic Temazepam, which had been prescribed to James Cain for a “host” of medical problems, according to the statement. The death was originally ruled as a suicide and the case was closed, but investigators re-opened the case when questions about her death arose.
James Cain was investigated by the State Bureau of Investigation and the Bladenboro Police Department for about seven years, according to Assistant District Attorney Tripp Watson, who prosecuted the case. He was indicted by a grand jury in 2009 and charged with first-degree murder, but the case never went to trial, Watson said.
“Obviously it would have been ideal to have this case tried much sooner,” Watson said. “We had to make the decision to make the case based on the evidence that we had. …We adjusted our position from a trial to a plea.”
According to Watson, James Cain provided Tamazapan, as well as insulin, to his wife.
“Both were prescribed to him,” he said. “Neither did she have a prescription for or a medical need for the medicines … he encouraged her to continue to take the medicine and that was the cause of her death, Temazepam poisoning.
“We felt that he had a duty to protect her — and encouraging and providing that medication to her caused him to be criminally negligent and that’s how we arrived at the involuntary manslaughter charge,” he said.
According to her obituary published in The Robesonian, Norma and James Cain lived on Chestnut Street in Bladenboro at the time of her death. She is buried at the Community Baptist Church in Bladenboro and is survived by two daughters and several grandchildren.
“On behalf of the victim’s family and on behalf of our office, we were pleased to see that we could give resolution to the family, at least in the form of an admission from the defendant,” Watson said.