“Uncomfortable truth” in sentencing hearing of Caitlin Ridgeway

20-Year-Old Caitlyn Ridgeway was sentenced to prison in Onslow County Superior Court Friday morning on second-degree murder for the 2017 homicide of William Clifton who was a former deputy.

20-year-old Caitlin Ridgeway pleaded guilty in Onslow County Superior Court Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 to Second-degree murder as well as robbery with a dangerous weapon in regards to the July 2017 homicide of William Clifton.

William Clifton, homicide victim

Ridgeway was represented by Jacksonville defense attorney, Paul Castle. Castle said in the hearing proceedings that he had asked Ridgeway, “Do you blame your mother? Do you blame God? Who do you blame?” He continued, “Caitlin blames herself.” Castle said to the court that this case has a lot of, “uncomfortable truth” and there are many victims in this case, “at the defense table and represented by the state.”

Paul Castle, Defense Attorney (Left Center) State Prosecutor ADA Bob Roupe (Right)

Castle gave many condemnatory details to the court about Ridgeway’s family structure leading up to the fatal death of Clifton. He said, “When Caitlin was 16, she was alone in Will’s bedroom. Will asked Caitlin to come on the bed. Will and Caitlin’s relationship began.”

February 2017 Caitlin moved out of her family home with her mother due to tensions between her and her mother, Castle said.

The relationship between the then teenage girl and William Clifton began when he was still a deputy at the sheriff’s office.

It was further stated in court that Ridgeway’s mother, Daina Hendricks was married to a deputy, David Pickett who was close friends with Clifton. Hendricks is a nurse and has worked in the jail as a jailor nurse. Clifton originally had a romantic relationship with Hendrick’s prior to the romantic relationship with her daughter Ridgeway, Castle told the court.

Ridgeway was employed at Monsters Pizza, and had all of her credits to graduate high school but did not due to not completing her senior project the defense told the court.

The Honorable Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Charles Henry was presiding over the hearing and ordered Ridgeway complete a GED program and have a mental health evaluation.

Lynette Bush, the victims ex-wife and mother of his three children gave a calm yet passionate address to the court to tell Will’s life as she and their children see it. “He was an excellent father” and “there are only three victims as far as I see it and they’re his children,” in response to hearing the defense attorney Castle’s statements on victims on both sides. Bush said Clifton was a Marine who fought for this country proudly and overseas in Afghanistan. She continued on how much of an impact he had on their children’s lives in a positive way. Since Clifton was murdered, their youngest son had to leave Jacksonville because of conflicting matters surrounding their fathers death. Bush said she didn’t always approve of Clifton’s choices but he was a good man and a great father.

State Prosecutor ADA Bob Roupe said the gun used in the murder belonged to the co-defendant Will Welch’s father. The gun was kept under the fathers mattress in the home. Welch and Ridgeway had spent time together in the home leading up to the time of the murder, even on the night of said ADA Roupe. The two however were not present in the home during the time of the murder, “between 9:30-10:30 PM bases on evidence.”

The weapon was sent out for forensic examination at Fayetteville PD confirming that the co-defendants father’s weapon was in fact a match in the case, the prosecutor said.

The victim suffered numerous gunshot wounds to his body, suffered blunt force trauma to his skull where he was hit over the head with a baseball bat, and the prosecutor confirmed that there’s particular evidence given in the autopsy is consistent with strangulation. Roupe said, “a cord, rope…” was consistent with the wound to the neck of the victim, though a bat, cord or rope was never found. The co-defendant Welch admitted to the bat being used and by he himself. The prosecutor said Welch told investigators that Ridgeway pulled the trigger but she never would admitted doing so.

Ridgeway was sentenced by an Alford plea. The Alford Plea is where a defendant acknowledges the fact there is enough evidence for the state to reach a conviction, but doesn’t directly admit guilt.

Ridgeway’s co-defendant William Welch, pleaded guilty to the same charges back in March and he is awaiting sentencing now that he will not be utilized as a witness to testify against Ridgeway. ADA Roupe said that will likely happen in the next month or so.

These two were charged in the fatal shooting of 48-year-old former Onslow County deputy William Clifton, a resident of Richlands. Clifton had resigned from his position as a deputy during the time of his death and had other gainful employment.

Welch told detectives that he saw Clifton at Woodlands Park, hugging and kissing the then 17-year-old teen Caitlin Ridgeway. ADA Roupe stated that there has been no evidence rendered to show that the romantic relationship between the victim and the defendant Caitlin Ridgeway was not consensual, and the legal age of consent in the State of N.C. is 16. There are particular cases where charges may be brought forward for underage relationships like with teachers and coaches but not in this case, those elements were not met in any way.

Ridgeway was sentenced to serve a minimum of 24-years and a maximum of 32-years in the N.C. Dept. of Adult Corrections. The remaining charges for injury to personal property are dismissed as a part of the plea agreement and Ridgeway is not eligible for an appeal.

Watch the hearing live stream on The Onslow Beat FB.

Editors note: Caitlin Ridgeway’s name was spelled inconsistently in error as “Caitlyn” in the original publishing and has since been corrected in entirety.

McGarry sentenced on second-degree murder

Joey McGarry, age 45 was sentenced to serve a period of incarceration in the N.C. Department of Adult Corrections for a minimum of 22-years and a maximum of 27-years for the second-degree murder of his girlfriend Maria Snook in 2016.

Joey McGarry, age 45 was sentenced Thursday morning to serve a minimum of 22 years and a maximum of 27 years in the N.C. Department of Adult Corrections in Onslow County Superior Court for the August 2016 second-degree murder of his girlfriend Maria Snook on Dawson Cabin Rd. Snook was 33-years-old at the time of the fatal shooting.

McGarry shot Snook in a domestic dispute. At the time in 2016, both the defendant and the victim had multiple charges pending in court for misdemeanor drug related crimes.

McGarry was represented by long-time Defense Attorney, Walter Paramore of Jacksonville.

Assistant District Attorney Kelly Neal, State Prosecutor in the case said domestic relationships are now ending badly and are getting worse. “They’re ending stupidly as well,” Neal said.

 

 

Paramore told the court that McGarry has suffered with mental illness, attempts of self harm, extreme depression and he is not competent enough to go through a full trial due to substantial memory loss. McGarry physical issues along with mental illness, he has vision deterioration in his left eye as well as dealing with hypertension which is age appropriate for the defendant Paramore said.

Paramore said he suggests Joey, “get into the safest place to be evaluated.” He added that he believes based on expert investigative information that McGarry suffers memory loss from excessive alcohol abuse.

The biggest heartbreak is being away from family and also his son, his client Joey McGarry has had very little contact with family so there’s no support, Paramore said. McGarry’s son is about 10-years-old residing with his mother, McGarry’s ex-wife in Connecticut, Paramore said. “I respect his illness and understand he needs treatment, he has physical issues and needs help,” Paramore told the court. The defense attorney continued explanation that he was uncertain that Onslow County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center is equipped to handle the needs of his client in his condition.

Paramore said McGarry has a documented history of mental illness that goes back to when his client resided in Connecticut prior to the murder of Maria Snook.

The Honorable Judge Charles H. Henry ordered substance abuse counseling and treatment as a part of the sentencing as well as a full mental health evaluation and treatment. Additionally, Judge Henry ordered close observation of the defendant.

McGarry was given credit for time served in the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center.

The defendant was sentenced on an Alford Plea which is a method often used in the state of N.C. in cases as this where the client acknowledges the evidence presented by the state is sufficient enough to support a conviction, yet the defendant has given no admission of guilt but agrees to be treated as guilty.

Homeless man with a mental illness sentenced to prison on two counts of murder

Willie George, Jr. age 34, pleaded guilty by an Alford Plea in Onslow County Superior Court today for two counts of second-degree murder.

This afternoon  in Onslow County Superior Court, Willie George Jr. age, 34  pleaded guilty by an Alford plea.

Willie George, Jr. admitted to the killings of 17-year-old Khalil Kirkland and 72-year-old Carl Eisert on the cold night of January 3, 2016.

The two victims bodies were found on Gum Branch Road in Jacksonville, NC nearly a half-mile apart on the same night.

George, Jr. pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree murder. An Alford plea is where a suspect admits no guilt, but agrees there is enough evidence to convict him at trial.

George, Jr. suffers with bi-polar disorder and was not taking his medication during the time of these heinous acts of murder. He was also homeless and battling alcoholism. The court believes that a combination as this is lethal and lead to this terrible outcome.

In an exclusive duo-interview with DA Ernie Lee, he said there was no doubt in evidence and George admitted himself to being guilty in court as well as accepted the plea agreement on that admission of guilt.

DA Ernie Lee said there was no weapon used in the murders, “just his bare hands”, speaking of Willie George, Jr..

There is another case involving a hit and run tied to this case with another individual that is still ongoing. Second-degree murder was the original charge and has remained consistent in that throughout the course of justice through sentencing. DA Lee said there was no proof of intent of malice to try for First-degree murder, the best aligned by definition of the law and evidence founded, was second degree.

As part of the plea deal, George was sentenced to prison in the N.C. Department of Adult Corrections for a minimum of 34 and a maximum of 42 years.

Mental illness, the lack of mental health care and substance abuse was a significant part of conversations today surrounding the trial today.

The defendant and both victims had family in the courtroom for support through the final process of justice.

Footage from today’s trial proceedings:

 


 

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PREVIOUS: The N.C. Fifth Prosecutorial District Attorney Ernie Lee issued a press release this afternoon stating the trial for Willie George, Jr. will begin tomorrow, Tuesday, July 9, 2019 at 2pm in Onslow County Superior Court.

George, Jr. was charged by law enforcement and indicted by the Onslow County Grand Jury with two counts of second degree murder for crimes that occurred on January 3, 2016 on Gum Branch Road in Jacksonville, NC.

The victims are Carl Joseph Eisert, age 72 and Khalil Edwin Kirkland, age 17. George, Jr. was also charged for assault on Gerard Natale in the same time period.

Kirkland was a student at Northside High School and employed at Burger King at the time of his murder.

The defendant is represented by William J. Morgan and the State is represented by District Attorney Ernie Lee and Chief ADA Michael Maultsby.

The case was investigated by the Jacksonville Police Department.

Two charged with felony child abuse of an infant child in Scotland County this week.

(SCOTLAND CO.,NC)-

Thursday, Scotland County Sheriff’s Office reported an arrest two adults on felony abuse and negligence of a 16-month-old boy.

Kristy Beth Backus, age 23 and Zachary Crabtree, age 24, both residents of 21000 McIntosh Road, Laurinburg, NC were arrested for charges related to a child abuse report received from Scotland Memorial Hospital on May 26, 2019.

Backus. Photo Courtesy of Scotland County Sheriff’s Office.

Backus was charged with:

(2) counts of Felony Child Abuse, Inflicting Serious Bodily Injury and (1) count of Felony Child Abuse by Negligence, resulting in Serious Bodily Injury.

Crabtree. Photo Courtesy of Scotland County Sheriff’s Office

Crabtree was charged with:

(1) count of Felony Child Abuse by Negligence, resulting in Serious Bodily Injury.

This stems from an unconscious/unresponsive infant child, who was brought in to the Scotland Memorial Hospital. During this hospital visit, the medical staff reported the child allegedly had severe injuries to the head, and other internal medical factors consistent with the symptoms of Shaking Baby Syndrome (SBS). The child was air lifted to a special children’s hospital where he received continued intensive care.

The infant child was confirmed to allegedly have ongoing serious bodily injuries, which were reported as being multiple internal injuries to the brain, in conjunction with other injuries to the infant’s body both internal and external. The infant was reportedly 16-weeks-old at the time he was seen during the reported visit for treatment at Scotland Memorial Hospital.

“During the investigation conducted by the Sheriff’s Office, along with the criminal investigative unit it was determined that Backus was allegedly the approximate cause of the ongoing abuse. Crabtree was arrested reportedly for alleged negligence.” Scotland County Sheriff’s Office said in a public statement on their agency’s investigations unit Facebook page.

Backus received a secured, $500,000 bond, and Crabtree received a secured, $250,000 bond. Backus and Crabtree are both scheduled to be in court, Monday, June 10, 2019.

Neither Backus or Crabtree have any prior criminal history listed in the NCDPS system.

Hubert man sentenced to 50-70 years for rape of his girlfriends 11-year-old daughter

On Friday, May 31, 2019, Eddie David Lewis Jr. was found guilty of two counts of Statutory Rape of a Child by an Adult and one count of Indecent Liberties with a Child. The Honorable Judge Phyllis M. Gorham sentenced the defendant to two consecutive active sentences of a minimum of 300 months and a maximum of 420 months in the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction. This is a minimum of 50 years and a maximum of 70 years.  

Upon his release from incarceration, he will be required to register as a sex offender and enroll in satellite-based monitoring for the remainder of his natural life.

On July 28, 2017, the victim disclosed that she was being sexually abused by her mother’s boyfriend and that it had been going on for approximately one year. The victim was 11 years old at the time, and the defendant was 22 years old. While the victim’s mother worked three jobs (including one overnight shift) to support the family, the defendant supervised the children within the home. Following the victim’s disclosure, her mother confronted the defendant via text message and in a controlled call at the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office, where he admitted engaging in vaginal intercourse with the victim. The call was recorded and played for the jury. The victim received a medical evaluation at the Onslow County Child Advocacy Center, and she was found to have a sexually-transmitted infection. The State presented photographs, phone records, medical records, and recorded interviews in addition to the testimony offered during the trial, including that of the victim. The defendant did not present any evidence.

The jury returned verdicts as to each charge after approximately 29 minutes of deliberation. Detective Charles Parrish from the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office was the lead investigator on the case. The defendant was represented by Attorney Stuart Popkin. The State was represented by Assistant District Attorney Kaelyn Avery.  This office appreciates the thorough investigation by the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office and for the assistance of the Onslow Child Advocacy Center.  This defendant received a minimum of 50 years in prison which sends a strong message to those who sexually abuse and assault children.    

Jacksonville man Terry Barnes pleaded guilty and sentenced to 14-17 years for the 2016 second-degree murder of his live-in girlfriend Tina Meyer

  On May 21, 2019, Terry Gordon Barnes, age 53 years, pled guilty to second degree murder.  The defendant was sentenced by Judge Charles H. Henry of Onslow County to a minimum of 168 months and a maximum of 214 months in the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction.  The State of North Carolina was represented by Assistant District Attorneys Kelly B. Neal and Precious Harrison-Cobb.  The defendant was represented by Attorney Paul Castle of Jacksonville, North Carolina.

    The evidence shows that on September 19, 2016, Onslow County Sheriff’s Deputies were dispatched to Old Maplehurst Road in reference to a shooting. Deputy Mark Hipple responded to the residence and found Tina Marie Meyer unresponsive on the living room floor with an apparent gunshot wound to left chest area.  Deputy Hipple located the defendant, Tina Meyer’s boyfriend of many years, outside the residence in a Ford Explorer and found Addison Riley, Tina Meyer’s step-fahter, inside the residence.  The defendant initially told Deputy Hipple that Mr. Riley had shot Tina Mayer and Mr. Riley indicated that the defendant had been the shooter.  An investigation by the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office would ultimately prove the defendant had shot and killed Tina Meyer.

During closing arguments of the April 2019 trial, ADA Kelly Neal argued the facts of forensics only made sense and that Terry Barnes did in fact kill Tina Meyer. Additionally that a verbal confrontation had transpired between the two of them before the rifle was retrieved. ADA Kelly Stated in his arguments it was impossible for an 81-year-old man who uses a walker to stand and walk to have shot Tina Meyer.

ADA Kelly Neal in closing arguments in the April trial

Defense Attorney Paul Castle argued that it did not make sense and that the man responsible for the death of Tina Meyer was her step-father, Mr. Riley. Castle presented demonstration of what he believed to exemplify the scene of the crime that night in his clients defense.

    Detectives learned that these three individuals had been out drinking that night and upon returning from the Globe and Anchor Bar, the defendant went into Mr. Riley’s bedroom and grabbed a .410 shotgun and returned to the living room.  He pointed the weapon at Tina Meyer and shot her in front of Addison Riley.  At the time of the shooting Mr. Riley was seated on a couch in the living room and Tina Meyer was standing in front of him.  The defendant put the weapon back in Mr. Riley’s bedroom and left the residence to sit in his vehicle.  An autopsy performed by Dr. John Almeida revealed that Tina Meyer had been shot in the left chest area with an entrance wound under her left armpit.  He concluded the wound was a fatal wound and that the shot occurred at a distance of three to five feet away from the victim.  

    The defendant was interviewed by Sheriff’s Office detectives and initially blamed Mr. Riley for the incident.  During the interview he eventually admitted to shooting Tina Meyer.  The defendant indicated the three of them had been out drinking and when they returned Tina Meyer was fussing at him.  He went into the bedroom and grabbed Mr. Riley’s shotgun and came back into the living room.  He pointed the gun at Tina Meyer to prove a point to her, thinking the gun was unloaded.  He cocked the weapon, pointed it at Tina Meyer and pulled the trigger, shooting her.  He demonstrated to detectives how he held the gun when he stood in front of the victim and shot her.  He told detectives he had been drinking and that alcohol played a part in what occurred.

    The case was tried as a first degree murder from April 1, 2019 until April 12, 2019 in Onslow County Superior Court.  The trial ended in a mistrial with the jury deadlocked and unable to reach a unanimous verdict.  

    DA Ernie Lee stated in a press release, “I commend the work done in this case by the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office.  The work done by the detectives and the Crime Scene Investigations Unit that night brought Tina Marie Meyer’s killer to justice.  This case was a senseless tragedy where someone lost their life due to a combination of alcohol and the use of a firearm.  Due to the hard work of the Sheriff’s Office, this defendant will serve a minimum of 168 months behind bars.”

 

 

Laurinburg man arrested on 12 felony counts of indecent liberties and sexual abuse allegations with minors under age 14

On Thursday, May 2, 2019, Thomas Marshall Brooks Jr., of 1006 Scottsdale Road, Laurinburg, NC, was arrested for 12 counts of Felony Indecent Liberties with a Minor Child. These charges came from the Scotland County Grand Jury, having found probable cause for the issuance of these indictments which occurred, Monday, April 29, 2019.

Thomas Marshall Brooks Jr.

In 2018, the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office received a criminal complaint against Brooks for sexual acts involving a minor child. Upon the criminal investigative unit conducting an extensive investigation, three minor female children were identified. These children were under the age of 14 during all alleged incidents. Brooks allegedly sexually abused these three minor children, over the course of several years. These incidents allegedly occurred within the personal residence belonging to Brooks, the former church of one of the victims, and at family friends residence.

Cpt. Sadovnikov completed the investigation and turned it over to the Scotland County District Attorney’s Office for investigative review and having requested their office to make a determination of probable cause in the fall of 2018. This having occurred, due to a potential conflict of interest regarding Brooks and his contact with local families including law enforcement. This was done so for the integrity of the investigation and the preservation of justice for the victims involved in this investigation. The Scotland County District Attorney’s Office found probable cause, and sent the indictments forward to grand jury.

Brooks appeared in front of the magistrate after turning himself in when requested to do so and was arrested. Brooks was given an unsecured $50,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Superior Court in the coming weeks.

Maple Hill man sentenced to 11-16 years on nine heroin related charges

Wilbur Leon Farrior, 58-years-old, previously of 120 Vinka Street, Maple Hill was arrested by Onslow County Sheriff’s Office Drug Enforcement Unit on November 2, 2017 and charged with the following criminal offenses:

  • Trafficking Opium/Heroin by Possession
  • Trafficking Opium/Heroin by Manufacturing
  • Trafficking Opium/Heroin by Sale
  • Trafficking Opium/Heroin by Delivery
  • Manufacturing Schedule II Controlled Substance
  • Sell Schedule II Controlled Substance
  • Delivery Schedule II Controlled Substance
  • Felony Maintaining a Dwelling to Sell a Controlled Substance
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

On April 29, 2019, jury selection began in the trial of Farrior for above listed criminal offenses. On May 2, 2019, the seated jury found Farrior guilty of all (9) counts listed above as outlined in the indictments. Based on Farrior’s previous criminal history, a single count of Habitual Felon was added, in which Farrior entered a guilty plea. Superior Court Judge Phyliss Gorham sentenced Farrior to an active sentence of 140 months to 192 months imprisonment within the North Carolina Department of Corrections.

The criminal investigation was conducted by Det. J. Marshburn, Det. G. De La Rosa, and Sgt. A. Barrera of the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office Drug Enforcement Unit. Assistant District Attorney Seth Sholar prosecuted the criminal offenses for District Attorney Ernie Lee.

Crime Stoppers offers cash reward of up to $2,500 for information that is deemed of value or assistance to law enforcement. Information can also be anonymously texted via Text-A-Tip by typing TIP4CSJAX and your message to 274637 (CRIMES). Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and never have to reveal their identity.

NC 9th Congressional operator accused as ballot fraud ringleader- Leslie Dowless Jr. arrested

NC’s 9th Congressional District operative has been charged with obstruction of justice and illegal ballot possession related to the 2016 and 2018 elections.
Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. was indicted by a grand jury and arrested, following evidence gathered and presented from during the investigation in light of the irregularities of absentee ballots in Bladen County in the 2016 general election and the 2018 primary election. Dowless is accused of being the ringleader of this illegal ballot harvesting operation.

WAKE CO.,NC-

NC’s 9th Congressional District operative has been charged with obstruction of justice and illegal ballot possession related to the 2016 and 2018 elections.

Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. was indicted by a grand jury and arrested, following evidence gathered and presented from during the investigation in light of the irregularities of absentee ballots in Bladen County in the 2016 general election and the 2018 primary election. Dowless is accused of being the ringleader of this illegal ballot harvesting operation.

Dowless was a key player, a political-operative hired by the Rev. Mark Harris, a Republican, to help get out the vote in his 2018 congressional run. Unofficially, Harris won by 905 votes on the Nov. 6 election over Democrat opponent Dan McCready. The State Board of Elections, however, refused to certify the race because of the widespread election irregularaties.

After the board of elections ordered a new election, the Reverand (Harris) unfortunately became ill and withdrew from the race and pending surgery.

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The indictment reads in section II that “The jurors for the State upon their oath present that on or between March 21, 2018, through May 8, 2018, in Wake County the defendant named above unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did conspire with others, including but not limited to, Rebecca Thompson and Kelly N. Hendrix, with deceit and intent to defraud, to obstruct public and legal justice by submitting or causing to be submitted by mail absentee ballots and container return envelopes for those ballots to the Bladen County Board of Elections in such a manner so as to make it appear that those ballots had been voted and executed in compliance with the provisions of Article 21 of the North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 163A pertaining to absentee ballots when they, in fact, had not been so executed….”

This arrest follows a refusal to testify last week at a State Board of Elections evidentiary hearing into widespread election fraud last year in the 9th District.

Also indicted were Dowless associates Tonia Marie Gordon, Caitlyn Croom, and Matthew Monroe Mathis, aforementioned Rebecca Thompson. Kelly Hendrix was named as an unindicted co-conspirator.

Reportedly, Dowless directed subordinates to commit crimes and give false statements to investigators. The Co-Conspirators also committed a number of criminal acts.

Dowless is being held in the Wake County Detention Center on $30,000 secured bond. The cases were placed on the Wake County Superior Court calendar for March 25.

Dowless is charged with three counts of felony obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiracy to commit felony obstruction of justice, and two counts of possession of an absentee ballot stemming from the 2016 and 2018 elections.

Read the indictment STATE OF NC VS LESLIE MCCRAE DOWLESS

 

Richlands man sentenced to 7 to 9 years on a number of drug related charges

Bradley Wayne Burgess, 28-years-old of Nine Mile Road in Richlands was arrested by Onslow County Sheriff’s Office Drug Enforcement Unit on November 2, 2017 and charged with:

  • Possession with Intent to Manufacture/Sell/Deliver Methamphetamine
  • Manufacture Methamphetamine
  • (2) Counts Sell/Deliver Schedule II Controlled Substance
  • Felony Conspiracy
  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

Today in Onslow County superior court, Burgess was convicted after a two-and-a-half day jury trial and was sentenced to North Carolina Department of Corrections for Possession with Intent to Manufacture/Sell/Distribute Schedule II Controlled Substance (Felony); Sell Schedule II Controlled Substance (Felony); Deliver Schedule II Controlled Substance (Felony); Habitual Felon (Felony) and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (Misdemeanor). He was given a prison sentence of a minimum 88 months to a maximum 118 months (7-9 years) by the Honorable Judge Charles Henry.

Crime Stoppers offers cash reward of up to $2,500 for information that is deemed of value or assistance to law enforcement. Information can also be anonymously texted via Text-A-Tip by typing TIP4CSJAX and your message to 274637 (CRIMES). Callers to Crime Stoppers may remain anonymous and never have to reveal their identity.

Grappo found guilty of involuntary manslaughter among drug related charges

Concluding almost two weeks of court proceedings and over two hours of jury deliberations Monday in Onslow County Superior Court, Josh Grappo was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Joseph Allen. Additionally, several drug related charges, such as: sell of fentanyl, deliver fentanyl and possession with intent to sell and deliver fentanyl for his actions on June 23, 2016.  He was also convicted of possession with intent to sell and deliver heroin, maintain a vehicle for storage of a controlled substance and conspiracy to possess heroin for his actions on July 22, 2016.  He received several consecutive sentences.  All but one were active. 

  • 25 minimum 39 maximum;
  • 19 minimum 32 maximum at the expiration of the previous judgment;
  • 11 minimum 23 maximum at the expiration of the previous judgment;
  • 11 minimum 23 maximum at the expiration of the previous judgment;
  • 11 minimum 23 maximum at the expiration of the previous judgment;
  • 8 minimum 19 maximum at the expiration of the previous judgment – this last sentence to be suspended and the defendant placed on supervised probation for 30 months; his terms of probation include paying crime lab fees and funeral expenses; $4,000 seized from the defendant to be forfeited.

The defendant was represented by Attorney Stuart Popkin. State Prosecutor Chief ADA Mike Maultsby.

Driver in the Bingo Hall Murder back in court Tuesday morning for two cases

James Williamson will be in Onslow Superior Court at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.
He was tried for 2 ½ weeks December 4-17, 2018 for the attempted robbery and murder of Kim Flournoy at TNT Bingo that occurred December 30, 2012. He was also tried at the same time for robbery of Lori Cannon of Tarheel Taxi that occurred on December 28, 2012. The jury deliberated for 2 days and deadlocked 9-3.

UPDATE: District Attorney Ernie Lee said Monday, James Williamson will be in Onslow Superior Court at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

He was tried for 2 ½ weeks December 4-17, 2018 for the attempted robbery and murder of Kim Flournoy at TNT Bingo that occurred December 30, 2012. He was also tried at the same time for robbery of Lori Cannon of Tarheel Taxi that occurred on December 28, 2012.  The jury deliberated for 2 days and deadlocked 9-3. The evidence showed Williamson was the driver in both cases.

A mistrial was declared by the presiding judge on December 17, 2018.  The State was represented by DA Ernie Lee and Chief ADA Michael Maultsby.

The Onslow County Grand Jury returned indictments in Williamson’s case on April 2, 2019, for accessory after the fact to 1st-degree murder in the Flournoy case and accessory after the fact to robbery with a dangerous weapon in the Cannon case.

Co-defendant Larry Forrest pled guilty to 2nd-degree murder, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, and robbery with a dangerous weapon on November 15, 2017, and received a minimum of 35.6 years and maximum of 45.8 years.  Larry Forrest shot the victim Kim Flournoy and used a gun in the robbery of Lori Cannon.

Williamson is set to be in court at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

Continue reading “Driver in the Bingo Hall Murder back in court Tuesday morning for two cases”

Murder Mayhem Series Vol.1 No.3 Second man goes to trial in 2012 Bingo Hall Murder

UPDATE:

Jurors selected to determine the fate of James Edward Williamson told The Honorable Superior Court Judge R. Kent Harrell, they have been unable to come to a unanimous verdict surrounding the suspect that is charged with second-degree murder in the violent death of Kim Flournoy in 2012.

District attorney Ernest Lee rendered closing arguments this morning reminding the jury that Williamson and his friend had planned to rob Kim Flournoy because they knew she had at least $100 cash in her purse.

During trial this week Williamson’s consistently delinquent financial history was exposed for the jury and submitted into evidence. Today the jury requested to review all bank statements again as well as video footage from outside of the TNT Bingo Hall on the night Flournoy was slain in the robbery.

The state said Williamson drove the getaway car after his friend Larry Forrest attempted to rob Flournoy and then shot her.

The jury has been sent home for the weekend and ordered to return Monday by the judge.

This case has been in the hands of the jury since early this Friday morning after a 10 day trial.


PREVIOUS:

After almost six years, the second man involved in the brutal murder of Kim Flournoy of Jacksonville, NC goes to trial this week in Onslow County Superior Court. Kim Flournoy, age 65 was robbed and killed as she entered the T-N-T Beach Bingo hall in Jacksonville with over $500 cash in her purse on December 30, 2012. Police reports told that Larry Forrest shot the 65 year-old woman in the face, through the eye while the second man, James Williamson drove the getaway car that was rented from Albert Ellis Airport.

The triggerman in this murder, Larry Forrest, then age 21, admitted to shooting Flournoy and was sentenced to 35 years last November after accepting a plea deal that spared his life facing the death penalty for capital murder. Forrest pleaded guilty to second degree murder, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon and robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Larry Forrest

Forrest was a U.S. Marine and a PFC (private first class) and an ammunition technician for the 2nd Supply Btn Combat Logistics Regiment 25 at the time of his arrest on April 16, 2013.

James Edward Williamson, then age 22, was charged with an open count of murder, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon. Williamson was also a Corporal as an active duty Marine at the time of the murder.  Williamson’s trial will begin tomorrow.

James Williamson

Earlier reports alleged the involvement of additional parties in this horrific and senseless act of gun violence where the gunman left in a 4-door white Dodge Avenger with “several” people inside of the vehicle.

Mrs. Flournoy was a widowed wife of a retired Marine, mother, grandmother and employed aboard Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in Jacksonville, NC. More than $20,000 was raised towards reward money for information on who was responsible for her death. Flournoy had just turned 65 years-old two days before she was killed outside of the T-N-T Beach Bingo off of Henderson Dr. in Jacksonville.

State prosecutors in this case are DA Ernie Lee and Senior ADA Mike Maultsby.

Teen defendants in the murder case of a former Onslow County deputy William Clifton set for trial

Grand jury indictments were issued by the Onslow County Prosecuting Attorney Jamie B. Askins on October 9, 2018 for defendants Caitlyn Ridgeway and William Welch.

Caitlyn Ridgeway was brought into Onslow County Superior Court on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 at the 2pm session in the first degree murder of former Onslow County Deputy William Clifton. The death penalty will not be sought in the non-capital murder case. Trial is set for January 2019. Ridgeway is represented by Attorney Paul Castle of Jacksonville, NC.

DA Askins specifically asked, while looking briefly into the audience, for the court to protect the records in this case as there has been sensitive information leaked out to the public. Particular information being publicized in such a preliminary stage of a high profile case as this can potentially taint the jury pool and the prosecution plans to proceed in true justice on all cases with fair trial proceedings. Additionally, such information tied to the emotional impact of the victims family members creates additional emotional stress and rehashes grief in the loss of their loved one.

Ridgeway will not be facing the death penalty and pleaded not guilty in the murder of William Clifton.

Family members of Ridgeway and Clifton were present in court on behalf of their family members.

Today, the Rule 24 hearing for Will Welch took place in the 2pm session of Onslow County Superior Court for three charges:

  1. Murder
  2. Conspiracy
  3. Robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Welch’s attorney, Jake McMahon is from PA whose expertise is in high profile, homicide, federal and appeal cases with 40 years of experience and sponsored by Jacksonville, NC attorney Christopher J. Welch.

McMahon entered a not guilty plea for William (Will) Welch on all charges.

The family of Welch sat in support of the defendant during the hearing today.

Trial is set for January 2019 in the matter of defendant Will Welch as well.

Triggerman sentenced in 2014 murder of Elmer Hudler today

In July of this year, The Onslow Beat began covering the tragic and senseless murder of Mr. Elmer Hudler, a man well loved by his community and family in  Murder Mayhem Series (Vol 1. No. 2).

On April 21, 2014, Elmer Lee Hudler was shot three times in the head with a .25 cal pistol, in his bed, in his home nearby Dixon High School in the Holly Ridge, NC area bordering Sneads Ferry. His son Josh Hudler hired William Zach Parker to kill his father for $250,000 in life insurance money where there was a deal for Josh to pay William (Zach) a weekly amount of $1,000 into an untraceable account to carry out this deadly plan. Parker was allegedly not aware that the target was Hudler’s father until nearing the scene of the home.

In an official press release from Distict Attorney Ernie Lee today,

Zachary Parker was sentenced today in Onslow Superior Court for his role in the murder of Elmer Hudler, age 60 that occurred on April 21, 2014, in Sneads Ferry, North Carolina. Parker pled guilty to the B1 felony of second-degree murder on November 29, 2016, and agreed to testify against Joshua Hudler, the son of Elmer Hudler.

On November 29, 2016, Joshua Hudler was charged with an open count of murder of Elmer Hudler. On October 3, 2018, Joshua Hudler entered a plea guilty in Onslow Superior Court to the B1 felony of second-degree murder of Elmer Hudler and he was sentenced to a minimum of 254 months and a maximum of 317 months in the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction.

On October 23, 2018, Parker was sentenced to a minimum of 300 months and a maximum of 372 months in the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction.
The State was represented by District Attorney Ernie Lee and Chief Assistant District
Attorney Michael Maultsby. Parker was represented by Edward G. Bailey of Jacksonville and William Gerrans of Kinston. The presiding judge was Judge Charles H. Henry of Onslow County.

The evidence showed that on April 21, 2014, Elmer Hudler was found unresponsive in his residence in Sneads Ferry. The autopsy showed that Hudler had been shot three times in the head with a .25 caliber pistol. The Onslow County Sheriff’s Office investigated this homicide.

On April 23, 20145, the spouse of Zachary Parker went to the Sheriff’s Office indicating Zachary Parker told her that he was involved in the homicide and that Joshua Hudler agreed to pay him to kill someone. Zachary Parker told her he shot the victim as Joshua Hudler was nearby inside the residence. On April 23, 2018, Zachary Parker was interviewed by the Sheriff’s Office and admitted that Joshua Hudler asked him to kill someone in exchange for money but he did not know who it was. It was not until they arrived at Elmer Hudler’s house that he realized Hudler wanted his father killed for his insurance proceeds. Zachary Parker told law enforcement that Josh threatened to harm him or his family if he did not do it. Zachary Parker admitted to shooting Elmer Hudler. Prior to shooting Hudler, both had used heroin. Zachary Parker said that after the shooting, he used five or six bags of heroin. Joshua Hudler denied to law enforcement his involvement in the homicide.

In order to obtain sufficient evidence against Joshua Hudler, the State made an agreement with Zachary Parker to testify against Joshua Hudler. Zachary Parker entered a plea of guilty to second-degree murder with an agreed upon sentence of a minimum of 300 months (25 years) and a maximum of 372 months (31 years) active time. As the shooter, the State advocated that he receive a substantial active sentence. The siblings of Elmer Hudler voiced their support for the guilty pleas of Zachary Parker and Joshua Hudler.

This was a senseless murder based in part on heroin addiction. Elmer Hudler had attempted to help his son with his addiction but Joshua was unable or unwilling to end his addiction. Eventually, Joshua Hudler’s addiction and desire for his father’s insurance proceeds led to the senseless murder of Elmer Hudler. As a result, several families have had to deal with this tragedy and crime.