Suspect Pleads Guilty in Lakeview Store Killing
One of the suspects charged in the murder of a man shot while trying to defend his wife in an attempted robbery at a Lakeview convenience store made a deal with prosecutors in court Wednesday.
Leroy Richard Medley pleaded to accessory after the fact to first-degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon. But sentencing will be delayed until after he testifies in future trials of other defendants in the case.
Also this week, two suspects in a 2008 murder in Addor pleaded guilty in deals with prosecutors.
In the Lakview killing, Angus "Gene" Kelly, 78, was shot June 28, 2010, during an exchange of gunfire with the defendants in an attempted armed robbery at the Exxon Short Stop and Food Mart on U.S. 1. He died from his wounds several days later after a number of operations in an unsuccessful effort to save his live.
Kelly was there to pick up his wife, Grace Kelly, who worked at the store. She was struck in the arm, and one of the suspects was hit in the face. They started shooting back and one shot struck Kelly in his left side, entering under his arm and emerging from his back.
Assistant District Attorney Peter Strickland gave the court a summary of the state's evidence in the case as a basis for the plea deal.
"Gene Kelly was waiting in his green Jeep Cherokee for his wife, Grace, to close," Strickland said. "Three young men with their faces covered entered with handguns. She was in back, and they demanded money from a Hispanic family. When she gave them about $70 from the cash register, they demanded more."
The rest of the money was in a safe that she could not open. Her husband, seeing what was going on, loaded his shotgun.
"Mr. Kelly fired one shot," Strickland said. "Some of it barely missed the Hispanic family. Demarcus Dennison fired one shot back and hit Mr. Kelly."
Randy Joel Williams, 17, of Southern Pines, shouted to Kelly that he was "only 17 years old, and please let them go," McSweeney said. Pellets from Kelly's shotgun had struck Williams in the face. and he lost 90 percent of his vision, according to McSweeney.
"A Highway Patrol helicopter used infrared and found him in the woods," Strickland said. "Paris Mack and this defendant were arrested in Southern Pines."
Dennison, 18, of Polkton, was also found in the wooded area with Williams. Kelly and Williams were flown to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, where doctors removed Kelly's spleen and made repairs to other organs, McSweeney said.
"On July 6 he underwent another operation for repairs to his colon," he said. "On July 9, he passed away from liver and renal failure."
Medley had given rides to the others, Strickland said.
On Wednesday, Grace Kelly watched from a rear pew in Superior Court as Webb accepted Medley's plea.
In the Addor case, Martin Devon McMillan and Justin Raynal Cotton pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit robbery in the shooting death of Donald Sands Jr. on May 12, 2008.
McMillian accepted his plea deal Wednesday, and in an unexpcted move, Cotton entered his plea Thursday.
Cotton's is an Alford plea, meaning that he felt it was in his best interest to accept the deal without admitting actual guilt. He had been charged with capital murder and could have faced the death penalty if convicted.
Sentencing for both defendants was delayed until April or May because Cotton's attorneys are waiting for mitigation testimony.
As a condition of their plea arrangements, McMillan and Cotton must testify against each other if called by the state.
On Wednesday in McMillian's case, Assistant District Attorney Peter Strickland said Sands went to Addor to see Elsie Hailey, but she was not at home.
"He saw her door was padlocked," Strickland told the court. "He confronts Cotton and the defendant, and offers a Seneca cigarette to Cotton."
Cotton tried to rob Sands, holding him up with a .22 rifle, Strickland said.
"Three shots were fired," Strickland said. "One hit him in the back and one in the head."
When Hailey returned to her home, she saw Sands' car and went to investigate with her flashlight.
"She found Sands bleeding," he said. "She called 911."
Investigators collected two .22-caliber shell casings at the scene along with a Coke cup and a cigarette butt. Cotton's DNA was on it.
Sands' mother and father were both in court, as they have been time after time when cases against two men accused in the murder of their son were heard.
Contact John Chappell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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