Laughter pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter in shooting death of Talia Petoia 

Published 11:50 am Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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Receives sentence of 15-27 months in N.C Dept. of Corrections

POLK COUNTY—On Monday, April 15, Tyler Laughter pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in Polk County Superior Court and was sentenced to 15 to 27 months in the N.C. Department of Corrections. The charge was brought against Laughter last year after he shot his girlfriend, Talia Petoia, on March 10, 2023.

After victim impact statements were made by Petoia’s family, Judge Jacqueline Grant handed down the sentence. 

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Laughter will be able to attend domestic violence and anger management classes while serving his sentence and with good behavior could be released after 15 months.

Approximately 30 of Talia’s family and friends attended the hearing in hopes of getting a result that serves justice for Petoia, who lost her life at the young age of 27.

“More than a year after Talia’s death there are finally results, but Laughter could serve as little as 15 months which is about how long it took for us to get to this day,” said Justice for Talia team member Alexa Stewart Hughes on Monday. “It took more than 13 months for Laughter to spend a single night in jail. While 15-27 months is the maximum sentence available, it seems near ridiculous that this is how justice is served in North Carolina.”

Approximately 30 of Petoia’s friends and family members attended the hearing (Photo courtesy of Justice for Talia team)

District Attorney Andrew Murray for the 42 Prosecutorial District told the Bulletin on Tuesday that the facts of the case, including interviews during the investigation and Petoia’s dying declaration that the shooting was accidental, led to the initial charges of involuntary manslaughter.

“My heart goes out to the family,” said Murray. 

The Justice for Talia team will continue raising domestic violence awareness within the community by sharing Talia’s story and her impact. The team will be talking to see what else can be done in Talia’s memory now that the criminal case has been concluded.