Crime & Courts

Plea deal offered in slaying that inflamed uptown Charlotte protests

Justin Carr was fatally shot in uptown during angry public demonstrations over the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott the day before. Rayquan Borum was charged in connection with Carr’s death. Now Borum’s attorney says his client has been offered a plea deal involving a second-degree murder charge.
Justin Carr was fatally shot in uptown during angry public demonstrations over the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott the day before. Rayquan Borum was charged in connection with Carr’s death. Now Borum’s attorney says his client has been offered a plea deal involving a second-degree murder charge. Observer file

Rayquan Borum, accused of a fatal shooting that further inflamed the uptown demonstrations last September, is considering an offer from prosecutors to plead guilty to second-degree murder and avoid a potential life behind bars, his attorney says.

Borum mug
Rayquan Borum is charged with the fatal uptown shooting of Justin Carr, which occurred in September during angry public demonstrations over the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott the day before. Now Borum’s attorney says his client has been offered a plea deal involving a second-degree murder charge. Mecklenburg jail

Borum, 22, is accused of first-degree murder in the Sept. 21 death of Justin Carr, which occurred in the sometimes violent aftermath of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott the day before.

Police say Borum has confessed to the shooting. His attorney, Terry Sherrill, described the death as a “terrible accident” on Wednesday.

Video shows the chaos after a man was shot during a protest in uptown Charlotte Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016

Some community activists continue to argue that Carr died from a rubber bullet fired by police outside the Omni hotel. Police say no rubber bullets were used that night, and forensic experts contacted by the Observer say a rubber projectile would not have caused the fatal damage to Carr’s skull and brain.

Borum protest
Rayquan Borum, 22, is accused of killing Justin Carr during the uptown demonstrations following the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott last September. Some community activists say police killed Carr and have made Borum the scapegoat. Michael Gordon

Now, according to Sherrill, Borum must decide before his Aug. 17 arraignment whether to accept an offer from Assistant District Attorney Clayton Jones – to plead guilty to second-degree murder along with possession of a firearm by a felon – and avoid a trial. If convicted of first-degree murder, Borum would serve a mandatory life sentence without parole.

Jones, who was picking a jury for an unrelated murder trial on Wednesday, said he cannot comment on a pending case.

According to Sherrill, Jones’ plea offer comes with a “substantial” prison sentence for Borum. The attorney declined to be more specific about the terms of the punishment.

Sherrill did say he believes the facts of the case point toward the lesser charge of manslaughter.

“But that offer hasn’t been made and I have been given no indication that it will be made,” Sherrill said. “(Jones) has told me that they have offered the best he feels he can do, maybe even the best he’s willing to do.”

Borum, he said, “has not made up his mind” about the offer. “But there are some things we need to see together … that may help him get close to a decision.”

Mourners gather for memorial service for Justin Carr at Camp Green Park in west Charlotte Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016. Carr was fatally shot during protests in uptown Charlotte Sept. 21.

Up to now, Borum has not seen the police compilation of surveillance videos and photographs that reportedly place Borum at the scene of shooting and show him firing a weapon outside the Omni.

Sherrill, who has watched the compilations, says they “show some things, but I have seen nothing that convinces me this is anything but a terrible accident. … What I think doesn’t matter. It’s what the state may be able to prove and our ability to defend against that evidence.”

For now, Sherrill said, Borum and he need to watch the videos – “to see these things so we can talk about what’s next.”

Michael Gordon: 704-358-5095, @MikeGordonOBS

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