Our Turn: Let the victims have a voice

A PeeDeePost.com editorial

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Both Eric Louis Whitfield and Natasia Equaility Hubbard seem to have a loyal following of supporters in the wake of charges filed against each man.

Whitfield, 41, of Rockingham, has been charged with voluntary manslaughter in the Nov. 11 shooting death of Mack Dewey Smith III. Authorities say the two men were in an argument about dogs making their Pecan Street home smell bad. The argument escalated; Smith pulled a knife and Whitfield pulled a .22-caliber rifle.

The case isn’t as black and white as one might think; Whitfield is making a case for self defense, and state law allows him to do just that. In addition, Whitfield and Smith are tied together by a single woman, a woman who was Whitfield’s partner and Smith’s sister. The conflict of emotions, and what exactly defines justice in this case, are complex.

Meanwhile, Whitfield’s supporters are weighing in on social media:

* “Eric … is a sweet soul an(d) would never hurt anyone intentionally. It was an accident.”

* “Hope the justice system does right and find(s) Eric not guilty.”

* “He wouldn’t have ever done this intentionally Just an unfortunate incident.”

In another case, Natasia Equaility Hubbard, 22, of Hamlet, has been charged with murder and common law robbery in the beating death of Vernon Mitchell Everett. Everett, 55, was found lying on the floor of his Winona Street home in Dobbins Heights unconscious on Nov. 23 by Richmond County sheriff’s deputies and Hamlet Fire and Rescue personnel. Everett was transported to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. He died Friday as a result of injuries sustained in the attack that night.

As in the Whitfield case, this one might have a gray area, details of which have yet to be made public. Regardless, both cases will wind their way through the court system and, barring a plea agreement, potentially play out in front of a judge or jury in the months or years to come. And here again, people are using social media to support Hubbard:

* “(Hubbard) is a good dude never been in trouble.”

While both men will always have their supporters of close friends and family, we ask anyone willing to read and listen to not jump to conclusions about either man’s guilt or innocence.

The role of our judicial system is an important one, and while Hubbard and Whitfield both are here to plead their cases, remember this: Smith and Everett have been forever silenced. Investigators with the Rockingham Police Department and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office have logged enough evidence to substantiate the charges; their ongoing investigations may or may not result in a conviction.

Either way, let’s allow their work and the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office to be the voice for the victim in each case.

Each PeeDeePost.com editorial is an opinion piece that aims to serve the greater good. It’s message does not necessarily reflect the opinion of any individual who works with The Pee Dee Post.

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