Murder and attempted murder are obviously among the most serious charges a person can face in North Carolina. The mere allegation that an individual has intentionally caused the death of another alters the course of one's life. When a person goes missing, one of the first questions authorities ask is where was he or she last seen, and with whom?
Anyone recently seen in the company of a missing person is somebody of particular interest to the police investigating murder and attempted murder claims; either as a suspect or a possible witness to a crime. At that very moment, public skepticism hovers over the suspect, and his or her life is changed forever.
It is the sole burden of the prosecutor to prove each and every element of any crimes alleged beyond a reasonable doubt. When the charges are murder and attempted murder, the burden seemingly becomes heavier because of the exacting consequences for those convicted. Evidence of a prior conviction for another violent crime may sway public opinion, but it is up to the court to decide if that evidence is relevant now. Side issues may arise, but the court is the deciding authority on what a jury will hear.
A 44-year-old Fayetteville man has been charged with first degree murder and first degree kidnapping of a 24-year-old woman who disappeared in June. Her dismembered body was discovered last week in a duffel bag in a black SUV in Robeson County. The man was the last one seen with her. He was also later seen driving her car, apparently stopping to buy bleach and mothballs at a local dollar store.
Authorities say the man has twice served in the National Guard, from 1985-1987, and from 2001-2006. He also spent six years in prison for assaulting his estranged wife, who died two years later from her injuries.
While the National Guard conceded felons are ineligible to serve, a spokesman said prior procedure required only that a search be made in the county of residence. The assault conviction was in a nearby county.
The courts will now ponder what, if any, of these facts are relevant to the current charges. It is a time for the criminal justice system to pause and evaluate any evidence from trial that is irrelevant and potentially prejudicial testimony in this defendant's case. A North Carolina attorney experienced in defending capital cases may help ensure that all legal rights to which all defendants are entitled are fully protected.
Source: The WRAL, "Murder suspect served as convicted felon in National Guard," Aug. 15, 2011