Awaiting justice: System strained with 40 held for serious offenses
By Shavonne Potts
Forty people are awaiting trial on murder, attempted murder and related charges in Rowan County. Twenty-six of them are jailed in the Rowan County Detention Center.
Thirteen of the suspects face charges of attempted murder. Eleven murder cases involve multiple suspects.
Charges don’t always lead to court. This year, four people have had cases dismissed because a grand jury did not find probable cause, evidence showed the suspect did not commit the crime or there was insufficient evidence to proceed with a trial.
Here’s a summary of the pending cases, starting with the names of the people charged in each case:
Chandaliea Lowder, 30, Michael Joseph McDowell, 34, and Jason Ray Sullivan, 20.
Authorities said the trio shot Thomas Vogt Jr. on the night of Sept. 12, 2005, and dumped him in a wooded area off Russell Farm Road in Enochville. He was covered with leaves and left for dead.
A resident in the area saw people leaving the wooded area. He followed them for a distance until stopping at a house. Vogt was later found about 120 yards off Russell Farm Road.
The incident stemmed from an allegation that Vogt inappropriately touched one of Lowder’s children.
At first, this was treated as an attempted murder case. All three suspects pleaded guilty to various charges and are serving their sentences in prison.
But when Vogt, paralyzed and under constant medical care, died last May, the trio faced new charges ó and possibly new trials.
Lowder is serving prison time after pleading guilty to attempted murder.
McDowell is serving an 8- to 10-year sentence for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and inflicting serious injury.
Sullivan pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and inflicting serious injury. He has been in prison almost two years.
Grover Franklin Jones Jr., 20, and Tommy Raynard Ferrens, 19.
The two were arrested in May 2006 in connection with the shooting of a man who gave them a ride.
The victim, Joshua Paul Tingler, was grazed on the temple by a bullet on May 16, 2006.
The shooting put nearby North Rowan Elementary School on lockdown. Tingler drove to the school for help.
The motive is undetermined. The suspects claim they took $250 from the victim. Tingler says nothing was taken.
Jones is charged with attempted murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, first-degree burglary, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, attempted common law robbery and felony breaking and entering.
Jones has been in jail without bond since Dec. 1, 2006.
Ferrens is charged with robbery with firearms and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. He has been in jail under an $82,500 bond since November 2006.
Jones also is suspected of being involved in an incident when an unnamed couple were robbed in their Bradshaw Road home on Dec. 27, 2005. The couple was robbed of $3,238 worth of property and cash, including wedding rings, athletic shoes and a computer monitor.
– Bryce Eugene Stokes, 20, Adrian Bennett Neely, 23, Titus Delaney Vinson, 24, Samuel Alford Poole, 35, and a juvenile.
They are accused in the death of Anthony McFadden, who was beaten and shot several times on May 29, 2006, in the 700 block of Wilson Road behind Salisbury High School.
Police arrested nine people over a five-month period and charged them in connection with the murder.
James Calvin Morton, 25, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in March. He was originally charged with first-degree murder. Morton is currently in prison.
Stokes was charged with accessory after the fact. He was released from jail and has since been charged, in January 2007, with felony common law robbery. Both cases are pending.
Neely was charged with accessory after the fact of murder. His case is pending. He has since been released from jail.
Titus Vinson was charged with accessory after the fact. He’s since been released from jail. His case is pending.
Tyrone Dejonas Vinson, 27, was charged with murder. He pleaded guilty in March to assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and is in prison.
William Isaac Sanders, 26, was initially charged with murder. Those charges were dismissed because it was determined he was not present at the time of the murder, court records show.
He has since been charged with marijuana possession in an unrelated incident and is awaiting trial for that matter.
Poole was charged with being an accessory after the fact and is awaiting trial. A murder charge against Poole was dismissed because he was indicted as an accessory, court records said.
Antoine Terrell McGee, 22, was initially charged with murder. He pleaded in February to assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.
– Corry Demario Davis, 23.
On June 27, 2006, police said Robert Nichols was shot in the chest at a home on West Bank Street.
Two men went into the home. One called Nichols by his nickname and fired. Nichols survived.
Davis, who police say is a known gang member, is charged with attempted murder, first-degree burglary, kidnapping, robbery with a dangerous weapon and failure to appear/comply.
The motive for the shooting is unknown. No other suspect has been arrested.
Davis has been in the county jail since July 13, 2006. He is held under a $455,000 bond.
– Travis Lee Chriscoe, 31, Mandy Latasha Clontz, 26, and Nicholas Jermaine Steele, 26.
Kannapolis nightclub owner Jeffery Allen Willis, 37, was reported missing Aug. 18, 2006, by his mother, Judy Gaddy. A week later his car was found in a wooded area in Moore County. His body was discovered a month later in a vacant home in Montgomery County.
Willis was beaten with a hammer inside Clontz’s Landis home. The suspects allegedly used Chriscoe’s truck to dispose of the body.
Authorities said the motive for the murder was money.
Steele, who is said to be Clontz’s boyfriend, was arrested in Moore County on Sept. 14, 2006. Clontz and Chriscoe were also arrested that month.
Chriscoe is charged with accessory after the fact of murder. He has been in jail since September 2006 under a $20,000 bond.
Clontz and Steele are charged with first-degree murder and remain in the Detention Center without bond.
– Bradley Paul Blymer, 24, and Joshua Lee Shaffer, 24.
Sheriff’s officials said the two men are responsible for the death of 62-year-old Jimmie Edgar Musselwhite.
A family friend discovered Musselwhite’s body on Nov. 16, 2006. He was tied and bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat at his Verlen Drive mobile home, where he lived alone.
Blymer was arrested in Kentucky four months after the killing. He is charged with first-degree murder, two counts felony breaking and entering a building, felony larceny and robbery with a dangerous weapon. He has been in jail without bond since March 3, 2007.
Shaffer was extradited from Pennsylvania in April 2007. He is charged with first-degree murder, two counts of larceny and two counts of felony breaking and entering. He is in the Rowan County Detention Center without bond.
Audy Thomas Harrington, 41.
Linda Wilkenson Harrington awoke early one morning in January 2007 and said she found her son, Audy, stabbing her husband, William Thomas Harrington.
Sheriff’s officials said when Linda Harrington tried to stop her son, he began stabbing her.
The mother sought help from a neighbor. Audy Harrington fled the scene and later returned to the Buffalo Street home where deputies still there arrested him.
Both parents survived.
Officials said Audy Harrington lived with his parents and the violent attack stemmed from a family argument.
He was charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, robbery with a dangerous weapon and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury. He is in jail without bond.
– Reginald Terrell Leach, 18; Elbert Leon Chambers III, 20; Alvin Dean Harrell, 21, aka Alvin Deon Harrell; Demarcus Antonio Richardson, 21; John Sifford, 21; and Patrick Antonio Hailey, 23.
The six were charged after 13-year-old Treasure Feamster ó an innocent bystander ó got caught in gang crossfire and was killed.
Feamster, a Knox Middle School student, was attempting to leave a teen party at the J.C. Price American Legion Post on March 16, 2007.
The party ended after an argument inside turned violent. Several shots were fired outside, and one of those shots killed Feamster.
Leach was charged with first-degree murder and possession of stolen goods.
On the day of Feamster’s funeral, police charged Richardson, Sifford, Harrell, Chambers and Hailey with involvement in the crime.
Feamster’s death put a spotlight on gang activity in Salisbury and throughout the region. The debate sparked two gang summits, one in June, three months after the shooting, and another in November 2007.
Leach was 16 at the time of the shooting and therefore ineligible for a death sentence.
Chambers was convicted of felony rioting in September 2007 and released in February 2008. He was identified as a gang member and has a lengthy criminal record.
Harrell, who has also been identified with gang involvement, was convicted December 2007 of felony inciting to riot. He was sentenced to 12-15 months at the conclusion of a sentence he was already serving. He is serving a nearly three-year sentence for a 2005 statutory rape charge.
Richardson remains in the detention center under a $100,000 bond as an accessory after the fact of murder.
Sifford is charged with accessory after the fact. His case is pending. Hailey is charged with inciting to riot. His case is pending. Both have since been released from jail.
– Debora Kay Nelson, 41.
Sheriff’s officials said in April of 2007, Nelson tried to kill the man she was living with by slowly feeding him rat poison.
She is charged with the attempted murder of Richard Whitling.
Nelson is accused of putting the poison in his coffee. The poisoning had not been going on for long. Whitling was taken to the hospital.
Nelson has been in jail without bond since Aug. 31, 2007.
– Michael Lamont Sowell, 29, and Kenneth Ray Adams Jr., 29.
Sowell is accused of shooting two men and leading Concord Police on a brief car chase on Interstate 85.
Both victims ó Johnnie Charles Thompson and Cecil Eugene Hall ó were shot multiple times but survived.
Sowell is charged with two counts of attempted murder and weapons possession by a felon. Officials also have two unserved warrants for him, alleging assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, court records show.
Sowell has been in jail without bond since May 2007. Adams was in federal custody on an unrelated matter. He’s charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder. Officials have two unserved warrants for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, court documents show.
– Justin Lamar Galarza, 23, Leopold George Harris II, 20, and II, Desimine Marnic Kirkland, 21.
Investigators say Demetrius Bost, 20, was killed somewhere else and dumped in a ditch along the 500 block of Milford Hills Drive. The crime happened less than 24 hours before the body was discovered May 26, 2007. Bost was shot in the upper torso.
No motive has been established.
Galarza was extradited from Florida in October 2007. He was charged with first-degree murder and assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. He remains in jail without bond.
Kirkland is charged with murder. He has been in the jail without bond since turning himself in July 6, 2007.
Harris is charged with first-degree murder; accessory after the fact of murder; possession with intent to manufacture, sell and deliver a schedule II controlled substance; resist, delay obstruct a public officer; carrying a concealed weapon and driving while license revoked. He is being held without bond. Harris has been in jail since October 2007.
– Joshua Marquis Byrd, 23.
Byrd is charged with attempted murder in the July 22, 2007, shooting of Brian Oglesby, 29, while at a house party on Tabernacle Street.
Police responded to a call about a large party at the house. Officers cleared the scene as the party began to break up. Officials said 100 people or more were at the party.
About 20 minutes later, police received a report that a man had been shot. Officers found Oglesby in a hallway with multiple gunshot wounds to the abdomen.
Byrd was arrested three months later at an east Charlotte apartment after a three-hour standoff with police. He has been in the detention center under $1 million bond since September 2007.
– Reginald Jasmond Burke, 22.
Police said Andre Maurice Turner, 27, was shot in the head and found in the backyard of an abandoned home at South Craige Street. The shooting occurred Nov. 5, 2007 and Burke was arrested Nov. 27, 2007, at Zion Hills Apartment.
No motive has been established. Turner survived the shooting, but remains hospitalized.
Burke is charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and probation violation. He has been in jail under a $150,000 bond since his arrest.
– Kenderrick Rashied Carter, 17.
The victim, Marcus Bratton of Davidson County, was shot in the leg when two men approached his vehicle near Shaver and Cemetery streets on Dec. 15, 2007.
The suspects asked for Bratton’s keys and put a gun to his head. Bratton was shot when he sped off in his car. Although he was unfamiliar with the area, he managed to locate the hospital.
Police say the suspects’ intent was to take Bratton’s car.
Carter is charged with attempted murder, three counts failure to appear/comply and attempted common law robbery. He has been in jail since Jan. 4, 2007, under more than $1 million bond.
Brandon Zachary Joyner, 25.
Authorities said what began as a plan to steal money backfired when gunfire left one of the conspirators dead and the intended victim wounded.
Officials said in January of 2008, Joyner conspired with Jamel O. Holland, 21, to break into the home of Travis O. Houpe and steal $3,000.
During an exchange of gunfire, Houpe was shot in the leg and wrist and Holland was killed.
Joyner is charged with attempted murder, attempted common law robbery, first-degree burglary, possession of a firearm by felon and probation violation. He has been in jail under a bond of more than $1 million since February 2008.
– Donny Ray Martin, 31.
Larry Brindle, owner of Brindle’s Used Cars and Parts, was at home when he and his wife awoke to a noise outside early one morning in January 2008. Brindle, armed with his shotgun, went outside to check on the noise.
An intruder overtook Brindle and tried to shoot the car dealer with his own gun. The safety was on the gun and it did not fire.
Thieves earlier had stolen more than 70 catalytic converters from Brindle’s business.
Martin was charged with attempted murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, larceny of a firearm, larceny, possession of a firearm by a felon, felony breaking and entering and failure to appear/comply. He’s been in jail under a bond of more than $1 million since Jan. 4, 2008.
– Lucas McKee, 19, and Jared Michael Jancic, 19.
Salisbury Police said the Cleveland men attempted to strangle Meredith Lynn Gruber of 116 Lilly Ave. on April 7, 2008. Both men were arrested April 15.
Detectives said robbery was the motive. They said McKee knew the victim and set up the home invasion, while Jancic carried out the act.
McKee is charged with attempted first-degree murder, breaking and/or entering, assault by strangulation, maintaining a vehicle for the sale or distribution of controlled substances and sale and delivery of marijuana.
Jancic is charged with attempted murder, assault inflicting serous injury and breaking and entering.
The case is pending. Both have since been released from jail.
– Jonathan Alexander Barnett, 19, Christopher Allen Boyd, 22, and Candice Jo Drye, 24.
The trio are charged with the strangulation murder of Salisbury dentist Dr. James David Boyd, who is no relation to Christopher Boyd.
The incident occurred June 26, 2008, at the dentist’s Pine Tree Road home, in the city’s Country Club area. Authorities confirmed the house was ransacked and believe the suspects were there to rob the dentist.
The State Bureau of Investigation was looking into allegations that the dentist was trading prescription drugs for sexual favors. Officials say Drye obtained drugs from the dentist in a private office inside his Statesville Boulevard practice.
Barnett is charged with murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, first-degree burglary and felony larceny. He’s been in jail without bond since June 29.
Christopher Boyd is charged with murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, second-degree arson, felony breaking and entering and felony larceny.
Two months after the murder charges, authorities also charged Christopher Boyd with intentionally setting fire to Moss & Moore heating and air conditioning in 2007. A tip from Crime Stoppers led to the arson charges. He’s been in jail without bond since June 29.
Drye is charged with murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon and driving while license revoked. She has been in the county detention center without bond since June 27.
– Davina Mocha Miller, 22.
Investigators say Sharmay Denise Perry, 28, Miller and others attended a party earlier in the evening of Sept. 1. Perry left the party with Miller, who was driving her home.
Before arriving at Perry’s Lafayette Street home, the two began to argue. Perry got out of the vehicle. As Miller was leaving, the argument continued, police said. Miller accelerated and struck Perry, who was standing about 10 feet away, with the car. Miller stopped the car top of Perry.
Miller was charged with murder and has been in the Rowan County Detention Center without bond since her September arrest.
– Balmore Portillo Merino, 39, and Mirna Del Carmen Guevara, 38.
The victim, Parra “Pollo” Policarpio, 43, was shot to death Sept. 23, 2008, at Amity Hills Farm on Mount Tabor Church Road in Mount Ulla.
A manhunt led to Merino’s capture in Virginia a month later. He was charged with murder.
Merino’s estranged wife, Guevara, was charged with accessory after the fact to murder in the case.
Guevara initially provided sheriff’s investigators with false information about the identity of the suspect.
Investigators say she also kept in contact with Merino by cell phone and aided him in eluding arrest.
Merino was jailed Oct. 9 without bond.
Guevara has since been released on $200,000 bond.
Coming Monday:How the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office deals with jail overcrowding.