Co-defendant: ‘My uncle killed that man’

 Defense: Witness is easily influenced due to brain tumor

By Kevin Spradlin

Previous coverage

* 3/31: Defendant’s nephew: My uncle did it
* 3/30: 911 calls replayed, detectives questioned
* 3/30: Victim’s wife of defendant: ‘He was our friend’
* 3/27: Alternates selected, opening statements set for Monday
* 3/26: Medical emergency delays murder trial
* 3/25: ‘At a particular place at a particular time’
* 3/25: Jury set in murder trial of Norman General Store owner
* 3/25: Prospective juror caught up in gambling ring
* 3/24: Race becomes an issue in jury selection
* 3/24: Defense works from “presumption of innocence”
* 3/23: Jury selection begins in murder trial

ROCKINGHAM — If what most or all of what Henry Thomas “Pete” Ingram has said in court so far is true, then the 53-year-old Concord man has likely served the longest prison sentence for stealing a single cigarette.

Of course, it’s not that easy. In the case against Ingram’s uncle, Alexander Ingram, in the murder of former Norman General Store owner Michael Leverne Collins Sr. on  Nov. 26, 2012, Alexander Ingram’s defense attorneys spent part of Tuesday having a go at Pete Ingram’s testimony — his truthfulness and his accuracy.

Henry Thomas "Pete" Ingram, left, and Alexander Ingram, right.

Henry Thomas “Pete” Ingram, left, and Alexander Ingram, right.

And they’ll keep going at him when testimony in Richmond County Superior Court resumes at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday in Courtroom E.

Pete Ingram, who has been charged with the same crimes — first degree murder and robbery with a dangerous weapon — as his uncle but is being tried separately, said he voluntarily took law enforcement to the bridge along MacCallum Pond Road in Montgomery County. That’s where, Pete Ingram said, Alexander Ingram ditched most of his clothing — all but his shoes — after killing Collins shortly after the store closed on Nov. 26, 2012. Law enforcement officers recovered clothing along Big Creek at McCullum’s Pond, a mere 10.2 miles from Norman General Store.

Pete Ingram said he visited a string of people after the murder, including a stop at his brother’s house while his brother was getting his child ready for school. There wasn’t much time for conversation, but this, Pete recalled, is what he told his brother: “My uncle killed that man.”

Pete Ingram told Assistant District Attorney Dawn Layton said he was wearing a pair of blue jeans, yellow and white Nike sneakers and a blue windbreaker when deputies with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office picked him up from the Candor home he shared with his mother.

On cross examination, defense attorney Stephen Freedman asked if police ever asked for permission to search his mother’s home in Candor. No, he said. Did they ask permission for the jacket he wore on the night of Nov. 26? No, he said.

Later, Freedman got right to the point:

“The person who took the hammer into Norman General Store … and the person who hit Michael Collins with that hammer, the person who did all that, was you, wasn’t it?”

Pete Ingram, to his credit, didn’t waiver. His voice rarely fluctuated and he did not appear to be upset. He stuck to his answer.

“No, Sir,” Pete Ingram said. “That wasn’t me.”

The person who hit Michael Collins Sr. once, then stood over him and hit him “two or three more times … that person was you?”

“No,” Pete Ingram rejected.

After the murder, Pete Ingram said he went to the home of a cousin, Debbie Williams. Then he walked to the home of Jonathan “John Boy” McBride, a nephew, before walking to Nancy (nee Quick) Collins’ home. After that, Collins and her husband Vernon dropped Pete Ingram off at the home of Larry McCaskill. From McCaskill, Pete Ingram said, he bought cocaine. McCaskill then called a friend, Marilyn Butler, to pick Pete Ingram up. Pete said he stayed there until daybreak.

Then he went to Shirley’s, “then to my mother’s, from my mother’s to jail,” Pete Ingram said.

No deal

Layton was able to get Pete Ingram on the stand without the promise of a deal, according to both Layton and Ingram. Freedman wanted to know what Ingram was getting out of testifying against his uncle. Nothing, Pete Ingram said, but the chance to tell “what really went on … to know what really happened, regardless of whether I hurt myself or help myself.”

During jury selection, a defense motion to question a sworn Pete Ingram prior to the start of the trial was denied by Superior Court Judge Richard T. Brown. The defense wanted to know what Pete Ingram would say on the witness stand. Layton successfully argued that the defense had the transcripts of three recorded interviews with law enforcement officials or attorneys and handwritten notes of a fourth interview.

In a transcript of the one interview not recorded, though, Freedman seized on Layton’s handwritten notes about Ingram’s purpose for testifying. She wrote: “He’s testifying to help himself. He doesn’t want to die in prison.”

Pete Ingram said he didn’t recall telling Layton that and insisted he was there to simply tell the truth. Freedman didn’t buy it.

“She just forgot to write that down,” Freedman asked.

Pete Ingram did not register a response.



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