Crime & Courts

Charlotte man gets life for ‘payback’ shooting death

A Charlotte man has been sentenced to life in prison without parole after being convicted of killing a man in front of his two sons – in revenge for a botched gun deal, prosecutors say.

James E. Currie, 29, was sentenced Monday by Superior Court Judge Richard Boner after a jury convicted Currie of first-degree murder.

It all stemmed from a gun deal that went sour, according to prosecutors.

Investigators said Currie and a friend made a deal in August 2010 to buy a gun illegally from another man in Charlotte. Currie’s friend turned over the money and received a bag that he thought contained a gun, prosecutors said. But the bag was empty, according to investigators.

Currie called the seller, demanding to get the money back, but the man refused, according to prosecutors. So Currie allegedly said he would start killing people until he got his money.

Prosecutors said Currie went to an apartment building on Lake Forest Drive off Albemarle Road and shot 28-year-old Brooks Crist, a friend of the man who took the money. Crist was shot in the back, prosecutors said, and they accused Currie of then shooting Crist six times in the chest as he lay on the ground. Crist’s young sons were watching, prosecutors said.

Investigators said Currie then fled to New York, where he was arrested in an unrelated murder in September 2010. Currie was convicted by a New York jury in that case in 2011 and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Mecklenburg County prosecutors said Monday that Currie will serve that sentence in New York and then be transferred to North Carolina for his life-without-parole sentence.

James Farris Hodges also was charged in connection with Crist’s death. According to court records, Hodges entered a guilty plea in January 2013 to accessory after the fact to first-degree murder. He is awaiting sentencing.