Co-Defendant Sentenced in Statutory Sex Case

Amy Norris Branch, 38, of Maiden, was sentenced to serve an active prison term of four to six years following her conviction for three counts of solicitation to commit a sexual offense with a child during Catawba County Superior Court on Thursday, February 21, 2019.

The Honorable Daniel A. Kuehnert, Superior Court Judge from Burke County, imposed the sentence for Branch, who will serve the term in custody of the North Carolina Division of Adult Corrections after pleading guilty to the offenses.

The defendant’s sentence will run concurrent with a prison term she is serving for a 2017 conviction from Davie County that is set to expire in January 2020. Branch also will have to register as a sex offender for life and is subject to lifetime satellite-based monitoring.

A co-defendant, Jamie Merritt, pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree statutory sex offense last month in Catawba County and was sentenced to an active prison term of 20 to 25 years.

Investigation of the offenses commenced in 2015 when Merritt reported his activity to investigators with Claremont Police Department. Branch later confessed to her involvement in the crimes.

The investigation showed that Merritt and Branch used Benadryl to drug a then-10-year-old female victim and touch her inappropriately. Merritt also admitted that he engaged in oral sex with the child. The events occurred on three occasions in September 2010.

Interviews of the victim corroborated the events that Merritt and Branch shared with investigators.

Capt. Allen Long led the investigation of the case for Claremont Police Department. Assistant District Attorney Scott Lippert prosecuted the matter for the State.

CONTACT: Nathan Key

Phone: 828-695-6193