Investigators testify in murder trial about collected evidence

Published 9:12 pm Thursday, February 14, 2019

SALISBURY — Local and regional investigators testified in court Thursday about the evidence they collected, stored and examined in the October 2014 double murders of Antonio “Tony” Walker and his uncle James “Junior” Walker.

The men were shot and beaten during a home invasion and robbery that turned deadly.

On trial for their deaths are Darius Abel and James “Mikey” Robinson. A third man, Kenneth Abel, who is the cousin of both defendants, accepted a plea agreement in September in exchange for testifying against them.

Jurors heard from Rowan County Sheriff’s Office Detective Lt. Chad Moose, who said although his agency was not the primary responders it did offer assistance. Moose and other Rowan detectives went door to door asking neighbors if they’d seen or heard anything and searched the area near the house.

Moose said detectives checked about 34 homes in the area and turned over their notes to the Spencer Police Department.

Moose said while checking the area, he found a du-rag on the ground in a grassy area. He said he asked the hospital to contact law enforcement if anyone reported to the emergency room with a gunshot wound, something he said he does as a general rule when investigating a shooting.

Moose also had interaction with Kenneth Abel during his interview with SBI agents, which was done at the Sheriff’s Office. Moose said he collected a DNA cheek swab from Abel.

Spencer police Officer Jeremy Crews said he collected a cellphone and a gorilla mask that were found in the middle of the road near the Eighth Street Ball Park. Crews placed the phone in a plastic bag and, because the mask could have contained biological evidence, he placed it in a brown paper bag.

Spencer police Investigator Shane Safrit said he is also the department’s evidence custodian. Any evidence collected by officers would have been stored by him. He inherited the job sometime after the murders, so the evidence collected in this case had already been stored at the Police Department.

Jurors also heard from State Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Kelly Lawrence Wright, who testified about the evidence she collected and processed. That included a Chevrolet Equinox that belonged to Darius Abel’s mother and was driven by Kenneth Abel after the murders. Kenneth Abel used the sport utility vehicle to drive to his girlfriend’s home in Winston-Salem.

Former SBI Agent Brian Armour also testified about taking photos at the crime scene.

Testimony will continue at 9:30 a.m. Friday with Brian Armour.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.