February 19, 2014

Testimony shows state of the house in 2008 triple slaying

At 6002 Patricia Ryan Lane, the groceries for the 2008 Super Bowl cookout didn’t get unpacked and the chicken never got flipped on the grill.

At 6002 Patricia Ryan Lane, the groceries for the 2008 Super Bowl cookout didn’t get unpacked and the chicken never got flipped on the grill.

Within about 12 hours of the kickoff that night between the Giants and Patriots, Kevin “Fergie” Young, Kinshasa Wagstaff and Jazmine Hines had been murdered, and Wagstaff’s north Charlotte home had been torched.

Authorities say two Cincinnati men, Nathaniel “Lil Nate” Sanders and Justin “Castro” Hurd, are responsible for the slayings. The pair drove up to Charlotte from Atlanta that weekend to rob Young, a DJ and drug dealer, investigators say.

Sanders was murdered in his hometown later that same year. This week in Charlotte, Hurd is on trial for his life.

The 35-year-old Hurd, who was arrested in Ohio a year after the deaths, faces the death penalty if convicted of the slayings.

Six years ago, Wagstaff and Young were found shot and/or stabbed in the burning wreckage of her home off Brookshire Boulevard. Hines’ body turned up several hours later and several miles away in Huntersville. She had been shot twice.

Wednesday, the case against Hurd and Sanders continued to unfold. Expert witnesses and Hurd’s defense team sparred over what some evidence actually showed. Investigators described how fires burn and vapors explode.

But perhaps the most haunting theme over three days of testimony is how quickly life changed that Super Bowl Sunday at one north Charlotte home.

That afternoon, Wagstaff had gone shopping with longtime friend Michelle Ervin. Sloan Boutique in Dilworth had a Super Bowl shoe sale, and Wagstaff arrived about 1:30 in her boyfriend’s white Camry.

“We closed Sloan’s down,” Ervin told the jury this week. Wagstaff bought a pair of Christian Dior hot-pink heels, and some lingerie for herself and Jazmine, her niece.

Around 3 p.m., Wagstaff talked by phone with Rebecca Dennard, a college friend from Norfolk State who had moved to Charlotte about five years earlier. The pair agreed to talk again at 6 that night about whether to get together during or after the game.

Wagstaff left Sloan’s around 5 p.m, Ervin told the jury. She apparently stopped at a Harris-Teeter on her 10-mile drive home. Her bags of groceries included Red Stripe beer, perhaps intended for Young, her Jamaican boyfriend.

As planned, Dennard called her friend at 6. No one answered.

“I was wondering what was going on,” she testified this week.

The missing Camry

A little before midnight, a woman believed to be Wagstaff made a whispered 911 call for help that was traced to 6002 Patricia Ryan Lane.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Officer Mike Travis responded. The house was dark and the doorbell didn’t work, Travis testified Tuesday. He knocked twice. He heard a dog whimper. He touched the hood of the white Camry parked in front. It was cold.

Travis then walked around the house and looked over the backyard fence. Nothing caught his attention, Travis said, so 10 minutes after he arrived, he drove away.

Three hours later he was back. The Wagstaff house was in flames.

Neighbor Patrick Long was the first on the scene. He said he threw rocks at the windows in hopes of waking anyone up who might be inside.

By the time Travis returned, the fire department was on hand fighting the flames. It was then that Travis said he noticed that the Camry was no longer around.

A red shoe and the backyard grill

Wagstaff and Young died in their home. Both had been bound and their throats had been slashed. Young had also been shot. Hines, 18, was found around 8 a.m. just off Beatties Ford Road.

Surveillance cameras have placed Nate Sanders at two convenience stores on Feb. 4. Each time he bought gas cans and gasoline. Once he paid for 20 lighters.

Former Charlotte-Mecklenburg fire investigator Jack Kennedy told the jury Wednesday that someone had walked through Wagstaff’s two-story home, pouring gasoline as he went. Then, whoever was responsible stopped long enough at the sliding glass door at the back of the house to flick a lighter.

Yet the details of what that Super Bowl Sunday might have been continue to haunt the trial.

Young’s Camry, which was parked near Hines’ body, still had the Harris Teeter groceries in the trunk. One hot pink high-heeled shoe was found nearby.

Back at Patricia Ryan Lane, Kennedy noticed something strange in the home’s backyard. The grill was packed with chicken.

“It was only cooked on one side,” Kennedy told the jury. “It had never been turned.”

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