Defense seeks mistrial

Co-defendant’s brother reveals alleged threat by Alexander Ingram

By Kevin Spradlin

Previous coverage
* 4/1: Detective: ‘I forgot’ to search co-defendant’s home
* 4/1: Pete Ingram: ‘To clear myself, I’d tell on my momma’
* 3/31: Co-defendant: ‘My uncle killed that man’
* 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 — Superior Court Judge Richard T. Brown is expected to rule on a defense motion for a mistrial in the trial of Alexander Ingram, charged in the beating death of former Norman General Store owner Michael Leverne Collins Sr.

Frank Wells, who along with Stephen Freedman is representing Jackson Springs resident Alexander Ingram, 63, said just after jurors were released for lunch that he felt the testimony of a state witness earlier Thursday had exceeded the scope of what was known to be asked.

Alexander Ingram

Alexander Ingram

Assistant District Attorney Dawn Layton put Neil Ratliffe, nephew to Alexander Ingram and brother of co-defendant Pete Ingram, on the stand at 12:12 p.m. Ratliffe said Pete Ingram came to his house at about 5:45 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012 — the morning after Collins was killed. Ratliffe lived at the time on Brutonville Road in a small Montgomery County community of Brutonville.

With the jury out of the courtroom, Ratliffe was to testify that Pete Ingram had arrived at his home the morning after the murder, went to sleep and later walked to the home of Ratliffe’s father-in-law for a ride back to his Candor home, which he shared with his mother.

With jurors present, however, Ratliffe Pete Ingram told him Alexander Ingram had threatened Pete Ingram, to the effect of, “You’re gonna be next.”

Upon cross examination by Wells, Ratliffe said he knew Pete Ingram hadn’t changed clothes since the murder took place approximately seven hours earlier.

“I know for a fact he didn’t change clothes,” Ratliffe said.

But Wells said that couldn’t be possible because Ratliffe didn’t see him until nearly six  hours later. The only thing Ratliffe knew, Wells said, was that Pete Ingram didn’t change clothes at Ratliffe’s house.

* * * 

An effort by the defense to convince the jury that the clothing recovered from Big Creek along MacCallum Pond Road by detectives — a location Pete Ingram directed them to —belonged to Pete Ingram himself took a hit when Carol Hicks took the stand.

On the night of Nov. 26, 2012, Hicks had worked across the street from the Norman General Store. She had worked there nearly 10 years but, she told Layton, the night of her murder was her last. Her normal routine was to wait until Collins had started his routine of closing the Norman General Store — coming out, taking the flag down and locking the icebox. Her concern, Hicks said, was being overrun with customers if Matt’s was open and the Collins’ store was not.

The night of Nov. 26, 2012, however, “he never came out” to remove the flag.

Hicks testified that the defendant, Alexander Ingram, had been a customer at Matt’s Convenience Store the night of the murder. The clothes he was wearing, she said, matched the description and photos of clothing recovered from Big Creek along MacCallum Pond Road in Montgomery County. Her testimony was supported by footage from video surveillance from Matt’s Convenience Store, which Layton played for the jury.

On cross examination, though, Wells didn’t seem convinced. The video, he said, noted a stop for gas at a time earlier in the evening — but after dark. Hicks had acknowledged Alexander Ingram had been a customer at the store between two and three times that day.

Where was the footage of that, Wells asked. Hicks said no one ever asked her for that footage. In fact, she said, “nobody ever asked me for any of the videos.”

Hicks acknowledged that when Alexander Ingram was a customer at her store that night, she  noticed nothing unusual about his behavior.


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