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East Spencer man convicted of attempted murder after shooting, running over another

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — An East Spencer man has been convicted of attempted murder in the 2016 shooting of a man he covered with trash and ran over with his vehicle.

Joseph Robert King of East Spencer was convicted in Rowan County Criminal Superior Court of felony attempted first-degree murder, felony robbery with a dangerous weapon, and felony first-degree kidnapping.

Judge Anna Mills Wagoner sentenced King to a minimum of 124 months to a maximum of 161 months in prison.

Officials said that on Nov. 28, 2016, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office received a call that a man had been shot. The victim, Johnny Leonard of Salisbury, was spotted walking down Old Union Church Road without pants and covered in blood.

Sheriff’s officials said King and Leonard knew each other, and Leonard gave King a ride to Food Lion in Spencer. King then forced Leonard into his own vehicle and drove around for almost two hours. King bought cigarettes using Leonard’s credit card, authorities said.

King shot Leonard twice and covered him with trash. Leonard said King ran over him with Leonard’s Subaru, and Leonard passed out.

After being left on the side of the road, Leonard woke up the next morning and walked to Old Union Church Road, where he was spotted by a motorist, authorities said in 2016.

Leonard identified King as the man who shot him. Detectives corroborated his account with surveillance camera footage at a store.

King was previously convicted of felony possession of stolen goods, among other convictions.

Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook said she appreciates the work of Assistant District Attorney Paxton Butler, the investigation conducted by the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, and the cooperation of the victim.

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