Prospective juror caught up in raid of gaming machines

 

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROCKINGHAM — The start of the third day of vetting prospective jurors in the trial of Alexander Ingram, charged with the murder of late Norman General Store owner Michael Leverne Collins Sr., experienced a bump in the road Tuesday night when one of the prospective jurors was rounded up in a gambling ring.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Assistant District Attorney Dawn Layton was forced to notify defense attorney Stephen Freedman about a previously vetted prospective juror in the murder trial of Alexander Ingram.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Assistant District Attorney Dawn Layton was forced to notify defense attorney Stephen Freedman about a previously vetted prospective juror in the murder trial of Alexander Ingram.

Richmond County Superior Court Judge Richard T. Brown met with Assistant District Attorney Dawn Layton and defense attorneys Frank Wells and Stephen Freedman behind closed doors. In the open courtroom — but before prospective jurors had been called to take their places — Brown acknowledged Prospective Juror No. 6 was apprehended in a Tuesday night raid by Richmond County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

The man, who moved to Hamlet from Memphis after meeting the woman who was to become his wife and works for a local manufacturing plant, has already acknowledged being convicted of DUI — “I was guilty” — some 20 years ago.

Layton said she called Freedman Tuesday night to notify him of the matter. Layton made the claim Wednesday morning she now questions whether the prospective juror, a black male and one of only three African Americans currently sitting on the 12-member panel, could be fair and impartial.

Freedman said all 12 potential jurors acknowledged during previous questioning they were familiar with video gaming machines and that Prospective Juror No. 6 had said he plays scratch-offs and in general did not have a problem with gambling.

Freedman also contested the suggestion that the man be assigned an attorney — no charges have been brought against the man, Freedman said.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Judge Richard T. Brown appointed Mr. Kelly Williams to represent Prospective Juror No. 6.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Judge Richard T. Brown appointed Mr. Kelly Williams to represent Prospective Juror No. 6.

“We’ve been told that he was at a machine,” Freedman said. “We don’t know if he was playing a machine.”

He suggested a possible conflict of interest on the state’s part in this situation, as the District Attorney’s Office is in “complete control” of whether or not charges will be filed against the man.

“He very well may not be in any trouble at all,” Freedman said.

Freedman said he believed the man “was truthful” when answering questions Tuesday about his feelings on gambling and video gaming machines. The issue could be relevant to the trial because Ingram is alleged to have been playing video gaming machines inside Norman General Store the night Collins was killed.

Brown said that he preferred to move forward “with an abundance of caution” and appointed Mr. Kelly Williams, of Rockingham, to consult with Prospective Juror No. 6 and to be present for any future questioning regarding gaming.

Though the man had been completed vetted, reopening voir dire is a problem. The issue, Brown said, is whether questioning can be reopened for a single juror or if it must be reopened for all potential jurors.

At 10:10 a.m., the court recessed for 45 minutes while Williams was to consult with Prospective Juror No. 6. In addition, Layton was tasked with gathering information from what Freedman described as the “so-called raid” that took places Tuesday night. Freedman specifically asked for a list of names of law enforcement officers involved with the action.

 

 

Filed in: Ellerbe/Norman, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety

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  • Raven Gordon

    The corruption in Richmond County DA office makes any case “completely in thier control”. Being verballyATTACKED and emotionally abuse IN THE COURT HOUSE as a victim of crime and have the DA violating our civil rights recently has caused profound trauma to us. The victims rights liason allowing this and condoning it in thier office showed our family the “good ol’ boy ” mentalitywill be hard press to be in the past in Richmond County. Until there is a change in this county crimes will continue to be ignored here… its so sad for such a beautiful place to have such horrible Govt.

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