Domestic Violence – Vernetta Cockerham Trial Update

Domestic Violence - Vernetta Cockerham Trial Update


In the fifth year of her relentless fight for justice, Vernetta Cockerham faced the unimaginable: her daughter’s horrific murder and a life-threatening assault by her estranged husband. These tragedies could have been prevented if domestic violence laws had been enforced. Vernetta’s case culminated in a financial settlement on June 30th, 2009.

The Tragic Events

In November 2002, Vernetta’s estranged husband, Richard Ellerbee, broke into her home. He brutally bound, beat, and suffocated her 17-year-old daughter, Candice, and then attacked Vernetta herself, leaving a long scar on her neck as evidence. Despite having obtained a protective order against him, Vernetta reported his violations to the local police. By law, he should have been incarcerated for those actions, and the police had assured her that he would be behind bars. Tragically, that did not happen.

Vernetta’s Fight for Justice

Vernetta’s wounds took a long time to heal, both physically and mentally. Almost exactly two years after that fateful day, she filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the town of Jonesville, NC, and two police officers. Her unwavering determination led to a settlement on June 30, 2009, just a day before the trial was scheduled to begin. The judge announced that Vernetta would receive a sum of $430,000. Her initial goal was not to financially burden the town but to create a shelter for battered women. The settlement represents hope for implementing services and changes in Yadkin County, where Vernetta continues her advocacy work through the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

The Settlement

On June 30, 2009, the courtroom held its breath. The trial loomed, and Vernetta’s resolve remained unyielding. Just a day before the proceedings were set to begin, a settlement was reached. The judge’s words echoed through the hallowed halls: Vernetta would receive a sum of $430,000. But this was not about money. It was about creating change. Vernetta’s initial goal was not to financially burden the town but to build a sanctuary—a refuge for battered women. The settlement represented hope—a glimmer of light in the darkness that had consumed her life.

Vernetta’s Legacy

Vernetta Cockerham’s journey did not end in that courtroom. Her advocacy work continued through the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Her courage became a beacon for others—a call to action. We must enforce domestic violence laws, protect the vulnerable, and ensure that no one suffers in silence.


Vernetta Cockerham’s story is one of profound tragedy, remarkable resilience, and an unwavering resolve that has inspired many. Facing unimaginable personal loss, her battle for justice despite the odds has left a lasting impact, not only in the hearts of those who know her story, but also through the tangible changes prompted by her tireless advocacy efforts. Her legacy, marked by her determination and courage, continues to endure as a beacon of hope for countless individuals. In remembrance of her and the struggles she overcame, let us recommit ourselves to combating domestic violence in all its forms, ensuring that the suffering she endured becomes a catalyst for change, preventing others from facing similar battles.


Is Vernetta Cockerham still advocating for domestic violence awareness?

  • Yes, Vernetta remains committed to her advocacy work through the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

What changes has the settlement brought about in Yadkin County?

  • While specific details are not publicly disclosed, the settlement aims to improve services and support for victims of domestic violence.

How can individuals support the cause?

  • Supporting local shelters, volunteering, and raising awareness are essential steps. Educate yourself and others about domestic violence prevention.

Are there any upcoming events related to Vernetta’s case?

  • Please check the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s website for updates on events and initiatives.

What resources are available for domestic violence victims in Yadkin County?

  • Victims can reach out to local shelters, hotlines, and support organizations for assistance and guidance.