Sam Walkers family calls him a peacemaker. On Thursday, he agreed to become a key witness in a beating and shooting death last September in which he took part.
Facing a murder charge, the 19-year-old agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. Walker will be sentenced at a later date.
In return, Walker agreed to provide complete and truthful testimony in the prosecution of four of his friends, all accused in the respect killing of Kydaryune K.C. Curry, 17, last fall.
Curry, according to witnesses, had refused to give his name to one of the five. The next day, the group beat and stomped him on the street. Investigators believe Dedrick Lorenzo McKenzie, then 16, shot Curry four times while he lay on the ground.
Bruck Birega Fekadu, Sheldon Gregory and Jeremy Elijah Pate also were charged. At the time, the suspects ranged in age from 16 to 19.
In court, 17 friends and family members of Walker stood as defense attorney Barbara Rynne described her client as a good kid who ran with the wrong crowd.
When given a chance to speak, the burly Walker said his life had not turned out the way he envisioned.
This aint how my family raised me, he said, reading from hand-written notes. I do want to say Im sorry.
At the defenses request, Superior Court Judge W. Robert Bell lowered Walkers bail from $1 million to $85,000.
Outside the courtroom, Walkers mother, Penneshia Neal, was already worrying about how the family would raise the money needed.
Walkers case was one of 25 homicide cases Thursday in Mecklenburg Superior Court. Other cases include:
Father gets 7-9 years in shooting of his son
Earnest Gurley says he should have locked himself in his room or called 911. Instead he got his gun.
Gurley, 63, shot and killed his son June 14. Facing a murder charge, Gurley pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter Thursday and will spend seven to nine years in prison.
Benjamin James Gurley, 20, died under a tree on Fairfax Drive in Myers Park. The man who killed him had adopted him as a boy. As Benjamin grew up, he veered into a life of drugs and theft, family members say.
Earnest Gurley had his own problems: a DWI, a charge of assaulting a female that was later dropped, a former girlfriend who accused him of threatening to kill her, sleeping with a gun under his pillow and drinking every day until he passed out.
On the morning of the shooting, Earnest Gurley told investigators he went into his sons bedroom because he didnt want him to sleep all day.
Awakened, the son attacked the father, hitting him several times. Earnest Gurley then went into his own room, retrieved a gun, and shot his son.
Benjamin Gurley managed to make it out into the front yard. His father called 911.
Driver apologizes for fatal wreck
There were tears on both sides of the aisle Thursday morning as Raquel Mallory pleaded guilty to the death of Ricky Neal, a pedestrian whom she struck with her car last July on a night in which shed been drinking.
As prosecutor Anna Greene described the events of July 21, Neals sister and another family member started sobbing a few rows behind her. Mallory, who sat with her attorney on the left side of the courtroom, joined in.
Mallory pleaded guilty to felony death by vehicle. Her car struck Neal, 46, as he crossed Beatties Ford Road. Her blood-alcohol level was 0.14.
Mallory faced as much as 40 months in prison. Instead, she will serve eight months with an additional three years probation. Superior Court Judge W. Robert Bell also ordered Mallory to pay more than $17,000 in restitution.
After accepting the plea deal, Mallory, a mother of three, asked to speak to Neals family.
She turned to Neals family and said she will deal with the consequences of her actions for the rest of her life.
Im just so sorry, she sobbed. Im just so sorry, Im just so sorry.
They were not all ready to listen. As Mallory made her tearful apology, two of the three women stood and walked out of the courtroom.
Driver pleads not guilty in police-chase death
Victor Olandus Moultry, who is charged with second-degree murder in connection with a high-speed police chase in February that ended with a fatal collision, pleaded not guilty Thursday morning.
The Charlotte resident also faces charges of felony possession of cocaine, felony death by vehicle, and fleeing to elude arrest.
Police say that on Feb. 16, Moultry was involved in a hit-and-run at Statesville Road and W.T. Harris Boulevard. He sped away north on Statesville Road, hitting speeds of more than 100 mph before smashing into the vehicle of Paul Joseph Jones in Huntersville. Jones, 53, was a cabinetmaker from Huntersville.
After Moultry made his plea, the prosecution told Bell that it had offered to consolidate all the charges under the second-degree murder charge, then agree to the minimum sentence for the charge. That offer is no longer on the table.
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