Jurors in Earnhardt trial still deliberating

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 28, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — Jurors will continue deliberating this morning in the Robert Douglas Earnhardt murder trial.
Jurors heard closing arguments Thursday and returned Wednesday from the Christmas holiday. Deliberations began Wednesday morning.
Earnhardt is facing first-degree murder charges in the shooting death of his stepfather, Billy Tommy Elmore. Elmore was shot in the back of the head Sept. 17, 2009, at the 165 Leisure Lane home that he shared with his estranged wife, Patty Kesler Earnhardt Elmore.
Billy Elmore had moved out of the home a week before his death.
Earnhardt is also charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury for allegedly shooting Tiffany Marie Barbee in the wrist/arm area.
Barbee had driven Billy Elmore to the Leisure Lane home so that he could feed his dog.
Earnhardt, in written statements, said he was defending his mother. Earnhardt said he saw his stepfather draw a gun toward his mother and that’s when he fired. A warning shot Earnhardt said he fired struck Barbee.
Barbee drove herself to Tamarac Marina for help. She was later airlifted to a Charlotte hospital. Barbee eventually had reconstructive surgery on her hand.
Jurors asked the court for printed copies of jury instructions around mid-morning and were then released for lunch.
Around 2:30 p.m., jurors sent two questions to the court — one regarding the burden of taxpayers if Earnhardt should see jail time and the other a request to see certain pieces of evidence.
Superior Court Judge Kevin Bridges told jurors to not concern themselves with sentencing, but only with reaching a verdict.
Jurors listened to 911 recordings of Brian Earnhardt, Robert Earnhardt’s brother, who called for law enforcement prior to the shooting.
In the recordings Earnhardt can be heard requesting law enforcement. He told dispatchers his children were in the Leisure Lane home and he would defend himself. The dispatcher told him to remain in the home.
Brian Earnhardt called back after his brother, Robert, shot Billy Elmore.
Brian was hysterical, cursing and at times incoherent.
Jurors looked through evidence that included photos and statements.
Jurors will return today at 9:30 a.m. to continue deliberations.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts @ 704-797-4253.