Crime & Courts

Trooper stopped driver for speeding. The passenger was a Charlotte murder suspect.

A State Highway Patrol trooper pulled over a driver he clocked at 89 mph on Interstate 40 in Catawba County Thursday morning and jailed the passenger on a 2014 Charlotte murder charge.

When Trooper B.K. Perkins checked for outstanding warrants on the driver and his passenger, he learned that 26-year-old Ajenee Semuell Forte of Concord was wanted on charges in connection with a 2014 murder and attempted robbery in Charlotte.

Perkins stopped the eastbound car at about 9:20 a.m., according to a State Highway Patrol news release. That was on the same morning Forte was scheduled for release on unrelated charges from the high-security U.S. Penitentiary Lee in Pennington Gap, Va., prison records show.

It was not clear why Forte was released from that prison, and prison officials did not return a call seeking comment about the release.

Pennington Gap is in southwest Virginia near Kentucky, some 212 miles northwest of Charlotte.

Forte was taken without incident to the Catawba County Detention Center and held without bail, according to the State Highway Patrol.

Forte is accused of fatally shooting 38-year-old Anthony Antoine Byers in a home in the 2100 block of Lincoln Heights Court in 2014, The Charlotte Observer reported in 2017 when Forte, then a federal inmate in U.S. Penitentiary Big Sandy in Inez, Ky., was charged in the case. Police said the shooting was drug-related.

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer since 1989 covering the people, municipalities and major news events of the region, and was a news bureau editor for the paper. He currently reports on breaking news.