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Tasman Stockdale freed after plea deal in February killing of Demareo Bost

SALISBURY — A Salisbury man walked out of the Rowan County Courthouse a free man Thursday after accepting a plea deal in the February shooting death of Demareo O’Bryant Bost.

Tasman Stockdale received credit for the five months he had served in the Rowan County jail awaiting trial.

The shooting occurred Feb. 17 at 312 Oakwood Ave. where, according to court statements, people had been drinking.

Bost, 28, was said to have been intoxicated that night and reportedly stabbed someone with a knife.

Stockdale, 28, who was friends with Bost, has been in the Rowan County Detention Center since his July arrest.

Stockdale was originally charged with second-degree murder and could have faced up to five years in prison, said Superior Court Judge Mark Klass.

Instead, Stockdale received a minimum of a year and a maximum of two years in prison for involuntary manslaughter, a sentence that was reduced to three years of supervised probation. He accepted an Alford plea, which means the defendant does not admit guilt but agrees that the prosecution could likely prove the charge against him.

According to Stockdale, who spoke in court, Bost and he were like brothers. Bost apparently became belligerent and chased Stockdale with the knife. Stockdale said he tried to leave but couldn’t find his keys.

He said he heard a gunshot and turned, thinking Bost was still chasing him. Stockdale said Bost was standing and then collapsed. Stockdale said he administered CPR to his friend until medical personnel arrived.

Salisbury police officers said in statements read in court that Stockdale left out some details about that night and is responsible for Bost’s death. According to Assistant District Attorney Greg Butler, statements from witnesses who were at the house differ considerably.

Butler said Bost was agitated and had a knife and gun with him. Bost threatened people in the house, Butler said. He said some witnesses who were inside the house looking into the driveway saw a confrontation between Stockdale and Bost.

A witness told investigators that he heard Bost say, “You shot me, bro,” Butler said.

A medical examiner’s report showed Bost was shot from behind. He had a bullet entry wound in the back and an exit wound in front. After Stockdale rendered aid to Bost, he left the scene.

“We don’t know what happened in the interim,” Butler said.

Butler said at some point, someone broke a window of the car Stockdale drove there. Stockdale said Bost punched the window out.

The prosecutor said one witness told police that Stockdale fired a warning shot into the ground.

Butler said at the outset, it looked like a case of self-defense. But the autopsy results showed Bost was shot in the back, “which complicates issues,” he said.

Police found shell casings from a 45-caliber handgun and determined Bost was shot at close range.

Bost’s mother, Karen Blackwell, couldn’t hold back tears as she faced Stockdale and asked why he killed her son. She told the court that the two men were like brothers and she considered Stockdale like a son.

Blackwell told Stockdale he never tried to reach out to her.

“Can you at least tell me what happened, Tas, so I can have some peace?” she said.

Other family members also spoke, including Demareo Bost’s sister Latoya, his nephew and father.

Latoya Bost pleaded with Stockdale to explain to her why the situation escalated that night. She said what happened could’ve been avoided.

Kevin Bost said he was not just hurting for his son but for Stockdale and his family as well.

“Both sides are hurting,” Kevin Bost said.

Demareo Bost’s nephew, Mike Carter, said the loss of his uncles hurts him every day.

“Everybody’s got their uncle. I don’t. It ain’t right, you know that?” Carter said.

Stockdale’s attorney pointed to the fact that his client didn’t leave the scene until he rendered aid to Bost and medical personnel arrived. He also noted Stockdale had served in the Navy and was honorably discharged. He said Stockdale has been a help to his mother.

Members of Stockdale’s family also spoke, including his mother, Sonji Clegg Stockdale, and his brother, Dezmond, as well as an uncle, the Rev. Maurice Little.

Sonji Stockdale said her son is the father of seven children and a role model to his younger brothers, Dezmond and Jeremiah.

“I hate this situation happened. This shouldn’t have happened,” she said.

“I love my son,” Sonji Stockdale said.

“I loved mine too,” Karen Blackwell said aloud.

Tasman Stockdale rose and said he hoped one day Bost’s family could forgive him. He said he regrets how things happened that night.

He said Bost’s death has changed everyone’s lives. He said it hurt him to know Bost’s family believes he would kill Bost intentionally.

Stockdale told the court Bost attacked him, hit him and stabbed his own uncle that night. He said he was chased around the yard and around his vehicle.

“If y’all feel like I’m wrong, I apologize to each and every one of you,” he said, turning to the Bost family.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

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