Suspect in Murder Released to Family
One of two teenagers indicted for a Robbins street corner murder has been released to the custody of his family.
The Moore County grand jury indicted two Robbins youths, Michael Lee Stidham Jr., 18, and Briant Andrew McKinney, 16, in the March 31 murder of Tomas Pascual. McKinney's brother, 17-year-old Trae Bradley McKinney, and their mother and stepfather, Tara Lynette Reynolds, 34, and Benjamin Allen Reynolds III, 35, were indicted on charges of being accessories after the fact.
Both Stidham and Briant McKinney had been brought from the Moore County jail to the court Wednesday afternoon for administrative hearings before Senior Resident Superior Court Judge James M. Webb.
District Attorney Maureen Krueger presented an arrangement under which Briant McKinney would be released to the custody of his maternal grandparent and said evidence showed he was not the shooter.
"He was a passenger," she told Webb. "There had been an altercation earlier that day. Two groups set out, one to get warrants from a magistrate and another to get a gun. It does appear he (Briant McKinney) was a passenger. Mr. Stidham owned the gun. Mr. Stidham owned the car. Mr. Stidham was the driver. The gun was fired out the driver's window."
Briant McKinney's younger brother was also a passenger, riding in the back seat, according to Krueger.
"This is currently an undifferentiated murder charge," his attorney Arthur Donadio said. "He has no priors. He has been in special ed classes his entire school career. Based on witness statements -- witnesses both on the street and in the car -- it becomes clear Mr. McKinney did not shoot Mr. Pascual. He did not know anybody was going to shoot him."
Meanwhile, a decision on whether the state will try Stidham for capital murder has been postponed.
Krueger said that after speaking with the defense attorneys, the state asked that the Rule 24 conference be continued until July 28. Webb granted the motion.
Stidham's attorney, Scott Holmes, of Durham, then asked Webb for an order assisting the defense in obtaining his client's medical records. Krueger said the state had no objection, and Webb allowed that motion as well.
Pascual's mother and father, other family members and friends -- some 17 in all -- sat on the right side of the courtroom observing the proceedings in silence. Krueger had explained to them beforehand about the agreement regarding Briant McKinney.
McKinney's grandmother and other family sat on the left side. McKinney, in red-and-white jail jumpsuit, handcuffs and leg chains, sat with his attorney at the defense table listening quietly to the proceedings. The deal resulted from discovery material Donadio had furnished Krueger's office.
"I have supplied Madam DA with a number of documents over the past three months -- school records, mental health records," Donadio said. "Jail is not an appropriate place for (Briant McKinney). As the case clarifies, it would be appropriate to release him to the custody of his maternal grandparents."
Webb examined the materials Donadio had supplied.
"The court is reviewing an outpatient summary that reflects the defendant's full scale measurement shows an IQ of 58," Webb said. "This report suggests IQ scores are consistent with mild mental retardation. The court notes Dr. David Bartholomew, apparently a forensic psychiatrist, is of the opinion that the defendant should be viewed as 'not capable to proceed.'
"Dr. Bartholomew is unable to estimate when this defendant will develop the ability to understand the legal process sufficiently that he would be viewed as capable."
The state has not had an opportunity to have that opinion confirmed, Donadio said.
Webb asked where Briant McKinney was living when the shooting took place. Donadio said he was living with his mother, but that her parents lived in another county. Their names were not mentioned openly in court, but only in a bench conference.
Under the consent agreement, the grandmother is to assist her grandson in making required telephone communication with the day reporting center.
"The defendant may be released on presentation of a $10,000 secured bond and on condition he be released to and reside with his maternal grandparents," Webb said in granting the motion.
He ordered McKinney to abide by a curfew of 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., except for educational, medical and religious purposes and not to have contact with codefendant Stidham or the victim's family.
Krueger told Webb that McKinney's parents were at their attorney's office preparing to post a property bond to secure his release to this custody arrangement.
"We did talk about this with the victim's family," she said. "Although they don't like the idea that anybody connected with Tomas' murder should not be in jail, they understand that this is the right thing to do."
Contact John Chappell at 783-5841 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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