Three separate murder cases resulting in the arrests of four people, dating back to the beginning of 2012, are pending indictment in Sampson County as the District Attorney’s Office awaits lab work and reports to move forward.
There are currently no administrative dates for any of the four suspects who stand charged in the three separate murders.
“None of the cases have been indicted or disposed as we are still awaiting lab work and some outstanding reports,” said Assistant District Attorney Robert Thigpen. “They are all still in District Court probable cause awaiting indictment.”
There is no timetable as to when that may occur. Each of the suspects are being held in the Sampson County Detention Center without privilege of bond.
The oldest case involves the arrest of Terrill Dewight Wells, 30, of Teachey, who stands charged in connection with the murder of a 34-year-old Harrells man in January 2012.
Gary Lee West Jr., 34, of 347 Bill Town Road, Harrells, was found dead in the yard of his Harrells-area residence just five days into the new year following an alleged home invasion. He was reportedly beaten and shot once in the torso during the fatal incident, according to Sampson County Medical Examiner Dr. Carl Barr.
Sampson County Sheriff’s deputies found the body of West in the yard of his residence “with obvious signs of trauma to the upper body region,” Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Pope said.
According to sheriff’s authorities, around 2:30 a.m. Jan. 5, 2012, the Sampson County E-911 Center received a report of a home invasion at West’s Bill Town Road address. Multiple shots were reportedly fired during the incident. The caller was able to provide a description of the suspect vehicle and a responding deputy conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle as it was leaving the area, according to reports.
The occupants of the vehicle, Wells and Jennifer Lynn Norris, 20, of Wallace, were detained at that time and subsequently charged in connection with the death by Sampson Sheriff’s Office investigators and the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation agents.
Wells was charged with murder, two counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon, felonious possession of cocaine and felonious possession of heroin. Norris was charged with accessory after the fact to murder and felonious possession of heroin.
Wells, who is being represented by attorney Scott Jack, was placed in the Sampson County Detention Center without the privilege of bond for the murder charge and a $1 million bond on the other charges. Norris was placed in the Detention Center under a $775,000 bond.
District Attorney Ernie Lee is prosecuting the Wells’ case with Thigpen, while Thigpen is handling the other cases. There are three other men alleged to have been involved in two other local murders in the county.
On April 28, 2012, 60-year-old Alfredo Medina was sitting on the porch of his Devane Street residence around 12:30 a.m. and was talking with two of his nephews when two men reportedly walked up and one of them began shooting. In all, six rounds were fired and Medina was struck once in the chest. The nephews were not injured.
Ambrose Brandon Laster, 25, of 413 Stetson St., Clinton, and Tramon Cortney Williams, 25, of 200 Still St., Clinton, each stand charged with murder in Medina’s death. Laster also faces a charge of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill.
The two were arrested in January 2013 following an extensive, lengthy investigation by the Clinton Police Department. The two have been held without bond in the Sampson County Detention Center after warrants were taken out, and served, in the fatal incident.
Investigators said Medina was confronted at his 212 Devane St. residence by two unknown suspects. One of the two, they said, had a weapon and used it to shoot Medina. Clinton Police Chief Jay Tilley said investigators believe robbery was the motive.
“Police and SBI investigators were very diligent in sticking with this case even though the leads were exhausted in the investigation,” Tilley said following the arrests. “I am particularly proud of the way both the uniform patrol and the investigators worked in developing information that led to an arrest in this eight-month-old case.”
Leads had been slow to come in just after the murder occurred, leaving investigators with little to go on in what then-police chief Mike Brim had called a random act of violence. However, after conducting an eight-month investigation, investigators met with Lee to present the evidence.
Following the meeting, officers secured warrants for Williams and Laster and picked both men up Jan. 17. Laster is represented by attorney Mike McGuinness and Williams is represented by attorney William Johnson.
The fourth murder suspect currently awaiting trial in Sampson is Barney Junior Robinson, 51, of 12977 Hobbton Hwy., Clinton, who stands charged in the July 16, 2013 shooting death of a Newton Grove woman.
Robinson was taken into custody early that Tuesday afternoon, after officers discovered the body of Karie Ann Jasper, 38, 614 Kenan Weeks Road, Newton Grove, just after 3 a.m.
Officers went to the scene following an E-911 call from a juvenile at the Kenan Weeks Road address who indicated that someone had been shot at the location.
Pope said, through preliminary investigation, it was determined that Robinson, who is an acquaintance of Jasper’s, was at the residence when a verbal altercation escalated into gunshots being fired. Robinson fled the scene, however he was taken into custody a short time later on Hobbton Highway by county law enforcement officers.
Robinson is represented by attorney Billy Joe Morgan. He, along with the three others awaiting possible indictment, is being held under no bond.
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.